I asked one of our longest supporters, Chris Foster of GIE Media, to share his story about raising a special needs child as well as why he chooses to support The Orange Effect Foundation. A true shout out to Chris for all he does. ~ Pam
We have three children. Our daughter, 28, is a registered dietician living in Cincinnati with her husband. Our oldest son, 26, is a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear division Sergeant in the US Army stationed in Okinawa Japan. Our youngest, 21, has his associates of science degree from Hocking College in Fishery & Aquatic Management.
Robbie was diagnosed as in spectrum when he was in 2nd to 3rd grade perhaps. I say “in spectrum” because I have never believed the diagnosis was spot on. He thinks differently, deeply, and has been successful so far in life and only becomes more so with each passing year. I would not describe him as loquacious but he can be a real chatterbox when you talk to him about fish and the number of saltwater tanks filled with corals he manages. I never liked the idea of labeling kids, but I know some just need a different kind of help than others. He had an apartment in Athens Ohio and drove between Hocking College and a fish hatchery in Athens where he had hands-on classes during the 2 year degree.
Around the time of his diagnosis we followed typical protocols outlined by the medical and educational community. I don’t want to dishonor their knowledge or intentions, these people do really good work. But again, every kid is unique. We found that medications made his condition worse and progress slowed. What Robbie needed was to be treated like every other kid, taken off meds, and given a bit of extra help to engage him academically in ways that made more sense to him.
Today, at 21, we know he will be successful at anything he tries. His life trajectory has changed dramatically. I know Joe Pulizzi believes every kid needs engagement and individualized treatment to get over a hump that might be holding them back. Once they get past that, they make huge strides in life, feeling self confidence that allows them to fuel their own success moving forward. Joe and I connected because of our involvement in the media business, but we connected more personally as NE Ohioans, fathers of sons who had some educational obstacles and we were both trying to get past a limited outlook provided by the mainstream medical community.
The Orange Effect Foundation has been a source of local support for in-spectrum kids for many years. GIE Media has been blessed with business success and as long as we can continue to support the OEF mission, we will. We have always tried to focus our support locally, working with The Orange Effect, the NE Ohio Food Bank, the May Dugan Center, though we work nationally with the Alzheimer’s Association as well.
About Chris: Chris was raised in Hudson OH, where he now lives and serves as the Ward 2 Council member and City Council President. He was educated in Heidelberg Germany and has degrees in International Business and International Marketing, including oddly a minor in classic German literature and accounting – and is currently enrolled in a Master of Legal Studies at Washington University. In addition to formal education, he is a Cisco certified network professional in routing and switching, a Cisco certified design professional in wide area network design, and holds retired certifications from Microsoft, Novell, and Comptia (MCSE, CNA, A+).
He is the President of GIE Media Inc, a Business to Business Media enterprise in Valley View OH, employing over 110 professionals. He and his wife are hobby farmers, raising chickens, turkeys, alpaca, and are beekeepers – his home is a registered Summit county apiary.