Mt. Vernon would like to congratulate Mt. Vernon High School (MVHS) Senior, Katelynn Hexamer, on her recent nomination for Indiana’s Champion of the Year through the Best Buddies program. Katelynn has participated in MVHS’s Best Buddies program the past four years and worked has now evolved to become the president of the Mt. Vernon chapter.
Best Buddies is an organization that promotes inclusion and friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The MVHS Best Buddies chapter provides an opportunity for about 30 students to connect and spend time with the IDD students once a month.
Katelynn says, “My favorite part of Best Buddies is being able to make friendships that will last a long time; I love that you can stay in the program until you are even an adult! This experience and the club overall has impacted me so much. I was actually debating on joining this club because I did not know if it would be the right fit for me, but it was. It’s impacted so many friendships I have right now, like the one I have with Ella!”
Ella Prazeau is a MVHS junior that Katelynn cares for who was born with Angelman Syndrome. This genetic disorder causes delayed development, problems with speech and balance. Hexamer attributes her precious time spent with Ella in Best Buddies helped her realize her future career interest. She’s decided to attend Marian University in Indianapolis next year, majoring in special education.
Brydgette Manship, essential skills teacher at MVHS, notes Katelynn’s contributions to Best Buddies: “Katelynn has grown quite a bit in the last couple of years and is a great ambassador of the organization. This year has definitely been a challenge for us, but Katelynn has definitely managed to maintain her relationship with Ella and her family.”
Ella’s mother, Alyssa Prazeau, shared, “Katelynn is amazing. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving for this nomination. Katelynn has been Ella’s caregiver for 18 months, but more importantly, she is Ella’s friend. Katelynn takes her to school sporting events, dances, and programs, plus fun things outside of school. This allows Ella to be a teenager without us, her parents, always having to be there. Ella doesn’t necessarily want special treatment just because she has special needs. She just wants to be included in the group, a member of the team, and accepted. Katelynn gives her those gifts every time they are together.”
When asked about her nomination, Katelynn replied with, “That nomination means so much to me! I was shocked when I got the email seeing if I could participate in it. To me it is not about raising the highest amount of money to beat the other champions. It means that I am raising money, getting various auction items, and sponsorships, to help raise inclusion in Indiana!”
Katelynn has been working hard to raise as much money, auction items and sponsorships to benefit Best Buddies at the November 14 Champion of the Year Gala. The goal is to win Champion of the Year, but more importantly, financially impact the promotion of inclusion in schools. More information can be found at www.bestbuddieschampion.org/indiana/supporting/#katelynnhexamer.