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Ryan Johnson wins 2023 Butler Lifesteps Star Award

Ryan Johnson, of Elderton, Armstrong County is this year’s recipient of the Lifesteps Star Award, for the person or entity who best exemplifies the mission and vision of Lifesteps.

Johnson, a participant in the Lifesteps Community Homes program, accepted his award at Lifesteps’ annual Star Gala, held on Friday, Nov. 17 at The Atrium in Franklin Township.

Johnson, a Lifesteps resident since 2019, was among the first to take part in their Remote Supports Program, which allows individuals to live independently without 24-hour care.

This August, he moved into his own home, a Lifesteps Community Home in Elderton, in Armstrong County. In so doing, he accomplished a dream he had expressed for a decade — to live independently on his own.

Since moving to Elderton, Johnson fulfilled another lifelong dream by applying to join the town’s volunteer fire department, and was accepted in September. He also stays active by participating in the Indiana County Special Olympics and Miracle League baseball.

“Ryan is a person with incredible focus who achieves the goals he sets for himself, despite his intellectual and physical disabilities,” said Karen Sue Owens, president and CEO of Lifesteps. “Ryan is an inspiration to many … for the person he is and for being a role model for his determination and focus in achieving his goals while overcoming adversity, despite his disabilities.”

Lifesteps, which is celebrating 100 years of helping the community, is headquartered in Butler. The social service agency provides for the needs of families, children, seniors, and adults with disabilities. The agency currently maintains 51 community homes across Western Pennsylvania, including the one in Elderton, for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities to develop self-sufficiency and independent living skills.

Lifesteps also offers employment training and pre-employment training services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, as well as “life sharing” programs which allow those individuals to reside with a host family.

Lifesteps' 2023 Star Award Recipient Ryan Johnson sits among friends
Lifesteps' 2023 Star Award Recipient Ryan Johnson sits among friends during the organization's Star Gala event on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023 at The Atrium in Franklin Township. Steve Cukovich/Butler Eagle

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