– By David Casper, Chief Executive Officer
My journey has been unique, to say the least. I have worked in all types of construction, retail, and sales environments. I was even a church planter prior to entering the human services field. From mental health to substance abuse and then finally developmental disabilities. “Jack of all trades, master of none”, I like to think. However, when I look back at my life I see a glimmering star guiding my way to where I am today. Outside of pointing directly to providence or my faith, I can honestly point to a guy named Billy.
During my formative days, I was a member of the Beta Club. Our service project one year was being a “buddy” for the day at then a fledgling, now a booming, event called Special Olympics. I could feel my excitement building as we arrived to Cane Creek Park that day. In a matter of minutes, no worries! No class assignments, no tests, no first period, and no second, third or fourth period for that matter. My buddy- “Stone Cold Billy”. He was a young man full of energy who loved to have fun with a capital F U N!
I learned a lot about acceptance, trying, sportsmanship, and, ultimately, friendship that day as we traveled from event to event. I really hated to see the sun setting. Time flew and I became an adult myself. I thought of Billy from time to time as I reached various stages of life. I wondered if he was still the same or if he had changed too. I pondered what adults like him do with their lives as they age. I was oblivious to the fact that he was probably somewhere working just like me- “adulting” just like me. In my heart, I just hoped he was happy.
My career came to a crossroads in 2017. Nerves in my throat, I put on my nicest suit and tie and went for an interview with UDI. Thankfully, there was a tour of the campus before my interview. One of the stops along the tour was at a table half way through the production area. A salt and pepper haired man spun around in his seat and reach his hand out to greet me. I said- “I know you. Your Billy.” He replied “That’s right. Batman Billy”. Other than the modifier before his name and the hair color, I felt like a kid again standing on the production floor. My buddy- Billy!
Nerves immediately left. I felt my life quickly come full circle. No matter what the pay or even if there was no pay, I had to work with Billy. And all of his friends too! Fast forward a few years and we are still buddies. I have grown to know him and his family more. They say I showed up at the right time for UDI. I know that Billy and UDI showed up at the right time for me.
My hope is that I can enhance lives at UDI for years to come like Billy enhanced mine all those years ago. Thanks “Buddy Billy”!