Aric’s Story of Hope

Apr 10, 2015 | Uncategorized

Aric has a knack for overcoming challenges.

As an infant, he battled a respiratory virus and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 2 after his family noticed he had trouble talking and making eye contact. He was met with another hurdle in 2011 when he was diagnosed at age 15 with stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that impacts the immune system.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I’m going to die,’” Aric recalled.

Despite his initial fears, he was brave enough to fight back. Only seven months after his diagnosis, he was found to be cancer- free.

“He’s an amazing kid,” his mom, Nancy, said. “He never ceases to amaze me. He had a lot of bumps on the road during his life, but he’s resilient and bounces back.”

Next up for Aric is conquering the job market.

Now at age 19, Aric is working through Hope’s Vocational Department to increase his independence as he moves into adulthood. He works in the mailroom at local bank double-checking envelopes to ensure no documents were missed. In addition, he works each week as a front desk attendant at The Hope School Learning Center.

“It makes me thrilled,” Aric said of working in the community. “So jobs can see what children with special needs are capable of doing.”

His story of triumph and perseverance exemplifies what Hope is all about:  supporting students and their families to show what young people can do when we focus on their abilities instead of their limitations.

“Aric is always willing to take on any leadership tasks that he’s given,” said his vocational teacher, Christina Hoffman. “He’s learned to adapt to change.”

Before enrolling at Hope in the fall of 2014, Aric’s family went to several job sites; but his mom said many employers are still unsure about hiring people with disabilities.

“They’re just not comfortable with how it’s going to work and what extra effort they have to put in. So having this bridge with Hope’s Vocational Department is great for not just Aric, but all kids. It’s teaching employers in the community that it can be done.”

Hope President and CEO Clint Paul added, “Our Vocational Department is a vital part of our effort to connect skilled young people with an eagerness to work with successful businesses in our community.”

Aric is an avid sports fan and during his battle with cancer, he was able to meet the New England Patriots football team and former Atlanta Braves star Brian McCann. His goal is to one day become an NFL coach.

His family fully supports his dream and would like him to continue increasing his job skills so he can live as independently as possible.

“We’re never going to tell him he can’t do something,” Nancy said. “We’re proud he’s our son.”

The success of students like Aric would not be possible without your generous support.

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At Hope, we support children and families to achieve optimum growth, independence and joy.


The Hope Institute

15 East Hazel Dell Lane
Springfield, IL 62712