BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
With help from her close-knit family and many friends, cheerleader Abbie Zelms will be graduating from Danbury High School this spring with plans for the future.
“It hasn’t been easy for Abbie, or for our family, because she has had to deal with being born with Down syndrome,” said her mother, Jennifer Zelms. “What has been most important for Abbie, as well as for her teachers, had been to make sure everyone believed in her abilities.”
The congenital defect can affect a child’s ability to think, reason, understand and be social. Children born with Down syndrome often take longer to reach important goals, such as crawling, walking and talking.
Now 18, Abbie has her sights set on attending BGSU Firelands, a college that has a special program designed to certify her to work in pre-school education.
“I already teach pre-school students at Danbury School District, and have been teaching the class on Zoom because of Covid-19,” said Abbie. She said she enjoys working with youngsters, and is proficient in the tasks to be done.
Abbie is close to her sister, Taylor, 23, and brother Andy, 16, and has made many school friends over the years. That had included girlfriends who go all the way back to their pre-school years, and grew up wanting to become cheerleaders in high school. Abbie wanted to be a cheerleader, just like her friends, and was accepted on the team.
“She had been a very good cheerleader during her years on the squad,” said her proud grandfather, Tom Krupp, assistant fire chief for the Port Clinton Fire Department. A U.S. Navy veteran, Krupp retired after many years working for the U.S. Gypsum Company. “If you didn’t know about her disability, it would be hard to realize that Abbie suffers from Down syndrome.”
There are very few things Abbie can’t do, explained her mother. Vision problems have kept her from being able to drive a car, but her social skills have developed very well and she has a willingness to learn new skills.
“Abbie is a really good fisherman,” said her dad, Mike Zelms, a supervisor at the Marblehead Quarry, summertime Lake Erie charter boat captain and a fall waterfowl hunting guide. “When we’re out yellow perch fishing, she’s the one who is always catching the double-headers. Abbie has a great touch with a fishing rod.”