Jimmy Baumberger may appear to be a typical high school senior, but he has conquered significant hurdles to become the young man he is today.
When he was in elementary school, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, the cancer went into remission. Some time later, however, Jimmy's mother began to fight another battle: drug addiction. This, too, became a real difficulty for Jimmy as soon thereafter his parents divorced.
Due to his job, Jimmy's father had to move to the Jackson-area to complete a long-term construction job. Jimmy had developed a close relationship with his grandfather and wanted to remain in Mansfield, so he stayed behind, moving in with his grandmother and grandfather.
Jimmy developed a love for football, both playing and watching it on television. While he was preparing for his freshman football season as quarterback, he sustained a knee injury, tearing his MCL. In spite of the injury, Jimmy completed the season.
Jimmy underwent surgery to repair his knee and began the hard work preparing for his sophomore season. During the first game of the season, Jimmy tore his MCL in the same knee, ending his season and his football career. Per the doctor's recommendation, Jimmy made the difficult decision to no longer participate in football, losing what was a significant part of his life.
An even more significant part of his life was lost during his sophomore year: his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and succumbed to the disease after a short battle. The loss of his grandfather, a hero to Jimmy, was devastating for him. Shortly after his grandfather's passing, Jimmy moved in with his aunt and uncle as his grandmother struggled emotionally with the loss of her husband.
Throughout high school, Jimmy has bounced around from home to home, staying with family members, family friends, as well as friends of his own.
Currently, Jimmy's parents have overcome their battles with addiction, and Jimmy has a very good relationship with them.
"Even through his most difficult times, Jimmy came to school with a smile on his face, and he is always willing to talk to and support other students who may be experiencing difficulties in their lives," wrote principal Rob Peterson in his McGowan Courage Award nomination letter.
Jimmy, who has maintained a 3.0 GPA during his senior year, is in the Auto Technology program at Madison Comprehensive High School. He is also employed at Aber's Towing, where he is very well-respected by his colleagues and supervisor for his strong work ethic and willingness to complete the variety of tasks asked of him.
“Through Jimmy's maturity, perseverance, positive attitude, and work ethic, he will graduate in May, and I am confident that he will succeed in whatever future pathway he chooses, and I believe he is an excellent nominee for the Rotary McGowan Courage Award,” Peterson wrote.
Jimmy's mother, Rebecca, said she’s proud of her son and the way he has overcome obstacles in his life.
"He's kept a positive attitude and strives to be more,” she said. “I’m very grateful that Jimmy has teachers that have been such positive role models and thankful to the Rotary Club for recognizing these young people for their hard work.”
Jimmy expressed his gratitude to the Rotary Club for the award and his appreciation for both his English teacher Jen Branstetter and auto tech teacher Tom Brandt.
"They have been positive role models that have helped me get where I'm at," Jimmy said.
The Rotary McGowan Courage Award is supported by these sponsors: OhioHealth, Richland Bank, Haring Realty, Mechanics Bank, Gorman Rupp, North Central State College, Richland Source, Shelby Rotary Club, The Ohio State University at Mansfield, Mansfield Art Center, The Renaissance Theatre, Snyder Funeral Home, Hamilton Insurance Group, Mansfield Area Y, Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, Mansfield Memorial Homes, Buckeye Horizon, Chuck Warner & Associates, Baker's Collision Repair, Catalyst Life Services, Miller's Diamond Jewelry, Scott and Adena King, Charles Cook, Jon Young, Dan Phallen, Gary Stroup, Harold Davis, Steve Cummins, Karen Redfearn, Scott and Mary Young, Betty Preston, Pam Sigenthaler, Melanie Riggleman, DJ Daniels, Win Meek, Walt Chaffee, Pat Chilcote, and David Crawford.