EATON — This year, Xander Pauley participated in his first ever Preble County Fair. Xander Pauley has down syndrome, so his mother, Tiffany Pauley, was originally nervous signing him up for 4-H, because she was afraid he wouldn’t be accepted.
However, he was welcomed with open arms and did a fantastic job in all of his shows, proving those with down syndrome are capable of succeeding in whatever they choose to do.
The Pauleys have a small hobby farm at home, so Xander has had access to animals throughout his life. His siblings were about to join 4-H and Xander was showing interest in the animals.
Tiffany Pauley thought it would be a good way to include him.
“I was nervous. He has always been treated well, but I was worried about whether they would be inclusive or give special considerations to help him in the way he needed. They have been great with the assistance. From the start, they were like, we’ll figure it out, as long as he’s having fun, we’ll make it work. It has been a good experience,” she said.
“4-H has been really positive for Xander. He has made some friends, all the kids say hi to him and give him high fives. They help him with his animals, and his brother is his helper in the show ring. It has been good even for his own siblings to rally around him and help him up a little bit.
“The other kids are great with him. They’ll push him along if his goat is not moving or anything like that. So far, they have really included him.”
His first show was on Monday, July 29. Tiffany added, once in the ring he “put on quite the show” and was the “center of attention.”
“I think it is good for him to feel like he belongs in the community and to be able to show his animal, something he worked hard doing. I think it is important for the other kids to know that he might have different abilities, but he is still able to do some of the things that everybody else in his age group is able to do,” she said.
“Everybody at Preble County have been so great with him. His 4-H club, Preble County Livestock, and his advisors have all been really instrumental in his succeeding this year in 4-H. They are definitely the reason we will be back next year.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH