Mikey Tagg and his family, as well as the entire Ontario student body, have refused to allow his Down syndrome to define who he is.
"His acceptance as 'just another kid from Ontario' has led him to reach his full potential," said guidance counselor Veronica Cain in her McGowan Courage Award nomination letter. "This not only benefits Mikey and his development, but more importantly benefits the students and staff of Ontario High School and the Ontario community as a whole."
Mikey, an Ontario High School senior, has a smiling face, outgoing personality, and fun-loving demeanor. He participates in school athletic events and dances.
"He welcomes everyone to our school, greeting students and staff alike by name," Cain said. "Mikey's presence has been an integral part of so many lives of the students and staff."
The entire Tagg family are part of the Ontario family. His parents are teachers at the middle school, and his older sister is a graduate of Ontario High School. With the love and support of his parents, Mikey has been involved in band, Drug Free Seniors, Student Leadership Committee, Key Club, Drama Club, Special Olympics, Tomahawk Baseball, and Crossroads Community Church. He has also served as a baseball team manager, office worker, and cafeteria worker.
"It has been a privilege to work with Mikey and his family," Cain said. "Our school is a better place because of the joy and friendliness that Michael Tagg brings to the school every day. I am grateful for the opportunity to nominate him for the McGowan Courage Award."
His parents Mike and Angela Tagg said they were proud and happy to hear that Mikey was chosen for this award.
"We are glad that others see in Mikey what we, his family, and his friends have always seen. Mikey is an inspiration to everyone he meets," Mike said.
"I can't tell you the number of times I have had students tell me of something that has happened involving Mikey which has changed the course of their bad day or week. He makes everybody he comes in contact better and makes the world a better place for all of us. If his positive attitude could be bottled and sold, we would be millionaires."
Mikey is excited for the luncheon and the award.
"He told me he is happy because it makes his mom, dad, and sister happy," his father said. "He wants everybody at Ontario to remember him after he graduates and he says he will remember them when he is rich and famous.
"He wants to thank everyone at Ontario Schools including adults and students for helping him become a better person and for making him the man he is today."
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.