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Wilfong earns prestigious Justin Dart Personal Achievement Award

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Sullivan’s Jonathan Wilfong earned the Justin Dart Personal Achievement Award at the Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities’ “Untying the (K)Nots that Hold Us Back” Annual Conference in Indianapolis on March 13. Wilfong is shown sitting on a Shelburn Volunteer Fire Department fire truck.

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A Sullivan man was recognized at the Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities’ “Untying the (K)Nots that Hold Us Back” Annual Conference in Indianapolis on March 13.

Jonathan Wilfong, 27, who participates in the Waiver Program at Developmental Services Inc. in Sullivan, received the Justin Dart Personal Achievement Award.

But while he was being honored, Wilfong was quick to thank others for his accomplishments and focused on his desire to help those that follow him during his acceptance speech.

The award is an annual honor presented to an outstanding individual who has participated in services through an INARF member agency and who has maximized higher skills and abilities to achieve chosen goals.

Among his many personal goals reached while at DSI, Wilfong has been successful in obtaining his drivers’ license, leads the local self-advocacy group and was recently elected to serve on the Self-Advocates of Indiana State Board. 

If that’s not enough, he began taking college courses at Ivy Tech last fall to pursue becoming an EMT and is currently in training as a volunteer fireman with the Shelburn Volunteer Fire Department.

“Many doors have opened for Jonathan and he is definitely taking advantage of all of the opportunities afforded to him,” DSI Development Director Sherri Tredway said. “However, he continues to encourage and help others who may be trying to realize their own dreams.”

Attending the event was Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who had her picture taken alongside Wilfong.

In his acceptance speech, Wilfong thanked “one special person, Kathy Kester. She's kind of like a second mom that adopted me … she saw the potential in me.

“I'd usually get asked what do you think about doing with your life and I didn't have really much thought on that,” he said. “But thanks to her and Four Rivers (Resource Services Inc.), I started a job there as a janitor.”

Wilfong said he has been employed as a janitor for seven years at the Four Rivers facility in Sullivan.

Looking ahead to his future, he spoke of “looking for something more, to be more independent to be more (reliant) on himself.

“Instead of having to worry about what I can't do and what I can do,” he said. “Because I know what I can do and when I can't do it, I'll know when it happens.”

Wilfong also thanked Four Rivers and DSI “for believing in him in getting this far, and hopefully, continue to bring more people to a future like mine.”

“We are all extremely proud of all the accomplishments Jonathan has made and we love his positive can-do attitude,” Tredway added.

The annual conference and award presentation coincides with Disability Awareness Month in Indiana.

Developmental Services Inc. — which merged with Four Rivers Resource Services Inc. in November 2017 — is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 and dedicated to serving children and adults with disabilities in over 50 counties in Indiana. DSI services include early intervention, job training and placement, residential living options, respite, music therapy, computer literacy, creative arts, personal enhancement, community networking, and advocacy. For more information visit www.dsiservices.org.

INARF is the principal membership organization in Indiana representing providers of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our members serve over 50,000 Indiana citizens annually and employ over 14,500 full-time employees. For over 45 years, INARF has maintained positive work relationships with governmental agencies responsible for human service programs, promoted networking and professional development opportunities for members, and provided leadership and support in the promotion of quality programs for persons with I/DD. INARF is committed to strengthening the system of services and supports for Hoosiers with disabilities. For more information, visit their website at www.inarf.org.

 


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