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Special Olympics - Mike Shipley

Zanesville Steel Recognizes Employee and Special Olympics Athlete

Special Olympics Ohio offers a place for individuals, families, and community partners to thrive as athletes and valued members of a community. For Zanesville resident and athlete Mike Shipley, his involvement with Special Olympics and bocce ball provided opportunities for growth and recognition not only athletically, but in the workplace as well.

Mike started playing bocce years ago. At first, the sport acted as an icebreaker of sorts to promote involvement with peers and help his short-term memory loss. Mike’s dad, Dan Shipley, believes his son’s involvement with the Special Olympics has helped him grow socially and personally.

“It’s a close-knit group,” said Dan. “For the most part, Mike is a normal 43-year-old guy. He’s as laid back as possible, but it’s really helped him get out of his shell. He got pretty good”

When he isn’t collecting medals playing bocce, Mike works at Zanesville Steel as a general assembly worker. The company manufactures resources and supplies for engineering, manufacturing, and other industrial spheres. Mike’s position is a part of another role for Zanesville Steel; large-scale packaging needs for companies like Rogue Fitness, an American manufacturer and distributor of gym equipment based out of Columbus, Ohio. Mike is responsible for pre-folding corrugated boxes that are glued together into bigger packaging assemblies needed for Rogue to protect and ship benches, large equipment, and more.

Nick and Erin Ritchey, owners of Zanesville Steel, have about 20 employees throughout the company. Early on, the couple realized the importance of partnering with boards of developmental disabilities. They’ve filled many positions after connecting with the Muskingum County Board of Developmental Disabilities, one of those hires was Mike.

“He does such a good job,” said Erin. “You can tell where he’s been working because everything is neat and orderly. It’s been a blessing for us and great for him.”

After some time working at Zanesville Steel, Mike’s dad called into the office and said Mike would need to leave work a little early for a bocce ball tournament. As the two were talking, Dan mentioned that if Mike wins, he gets to go to the Special Olympics in Columbus.

And he did just that. Mike won that tournament and was set to compete in Columbus, but not before carrying the Special Olympics torch through a section of downtown Zanesville. To show support for Mike, Erin rallied the troops, encouraging any interested co-workers to leave work and support Mike while he carried the torch through town.

“We have a very generous community,” said Mike’s dad, Dan. “We have a lot of caring and generous people, and Zanesville Steel has gone above and beyond for Mike.”

Whether it’s bocce ball or folding boxes, Mike has exceeded expectations and overcame every obstacle. His story exemplifies the impact that Special Olympics Ohio and employment opportunities can have on people with developmental disabilities.

For more stories like this, visit DODD’s Employment First website or the Special Olympics Ohio website and get involved today.