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Brian Ridder paints everyday, has sold dozens of art pieces and has even illustrated a children’s book.

FINDLAY, Ohio — March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and a Findlay man is sharing his story of overcoming the challenges in his life, while also pursuing his passion for art.

“If you got to know Brian, he’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met in my whole life,” said Megan Griffith, a Direct Support Professional with 1st Choice Family Services.

Brian Ridder has had a passion for art his entire life.

He has also been dealing with the effects of spina bifida his entire life. He says focusing on the bright colors of his artwork helps take his mind off of his struggles.

“It’s my release. It’s always helped me out through tough times,” said Ridder. “I like bright colors. I don’t wear bright colors, but I like to paint with bright colors. I like to see people smile when they look at my pictures.”

Since moving to Findlay, Brian has worked as an artist at Kan Du Studio, where he is able to sell his work.

When he gets home, he’s usually in front of an easel there as well.

He says he’s not sure exactly how many pieces he has sold, but it’s in the dozens. After Brian sold one of his paintings to a friend from Lima, that friend was inspired by the painting to make a children’s book.

And who better to hire to illustrate that book than Brian himself?

Winston’S World was published by AuthorHouse in 2015.

Every Monday for about five hours, Brian is visited by his Direct Support Professional Megan.

Megan says the help they offer people with developmental disabilities is crucial in helping them reach new goals, remaining independent and integrating into their communities as a valued and equal member.

“We do stuff like go grocery shopping with them, take them to the zoo. Just get them out and around other people,” said Megan

“We can do everything that other people can do, we just go about it in different ways. And our creativity is a bit different and our outlook on life is a bit different,” said Ridder.

Also in Findlay, the Blanchard Valley Center painted their groups initials on Main Street for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

They had a nice stencil made, but the wind destroyed it, so the group improvised and painted it free hand.

As part of the Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Blanchard Valley promotes inclusion for those with disabilities, but also raises awareness of their barriers as well.

“They want to be a part of their community, they want to be included, they want to live fulfilling lives just like the rest of us. They want to have a job, they want to have friends and relationships,” said Nadine Weininger, Quality Services Manager at BVC.

The Blanchard Valley Center helps about 700 Hancock County residents.

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