LauraM. Brumbaugh | 10/31/2008 12:56:58 AM
READHIMER – Zachary Page, a 15-year-old Natchitoches Parish 4-H’er, has won the Triumph Award through Special Olympics Louisiana.
The award goes to an individual from Louisiana who has had significant success or noteworthy achievement in an instance or occasion of victory – an individual with an "overcoming-the-odds" story.
It will be given by Louisiana First Lady Supriya Jindal Nov. 21 at a luncheon at the Louisiana State Police Training Center in Baton Rouge.
According to his mother, Belinda Page, Zachary was diagnosed with Asperger's autism in 2007 after 14 years of being told he had attention deficit disorder.
Zachary is an eighth-grader at Goldonna Elementary/Junior High School. He has been in 4-H for seven years (two years as a Junior Leader), a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and on the yearbook staff for two years. He is also a youth leader at First Methodist Church in Minden. He has run track in Special Olympics.
“This year, at the 4-H LOST (Louisiana Outdoor Skills and Technology) Camp, he was able to communicate with children his own age, and he came out of his shell,” Page said.
Aimed at seventh and eighth graders, LOST Camp gives youth a chance to explore nontraditional areas of study, including forensic science.
“I talked to and made new friends,” Zachary wrote in an essay accompanying the Triumph Award nomination. “I even slow-danced with a couple of girls.”
Zachary has also attended 4-H University, which he said is the most fun because it is on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.
“I am very proud of Zachary receiving this award. While working with Zachary over the last two years, I have witnessed his dedication to service and his ability to overcome adversity,” said Laura Brumbaugh, LSU AgCenter assistant extension agent in Natchitoches Parish. “This award exemplifies that 4-H is developing life skills to use later on.”
“He is making strides to improve his overall well-being and is doing very well,” Page said. “Zachary's autism holds him back in cognitive relation and relation to his peers. He can hold a conversation with adults, and children love him.”
In fact, Zachary volunteers at the Community Care Center and visits with older people, enjoying their stories from the past. He also devotes time to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Jump Rope for Heart and the American Cancer Society.
In his spare time, he plays Nintendo and reads about and searches for the planets through his telescope.
The luncheon will honor eight Leaders of Tomorrow (youth under the age of 21) who are "Building Greatness" while promoting good citizenship, entrepreneurship, leadership and excellence, according to Special Olympics materials.
Tickets are $50 and are available through Special Olympics at (985) 345-6644.