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Miami County Megastars -- DD Awareness Month 2018

Nathan Warner

Musician. Actor. Missionary. These are just a few of the words that describe ambitious Milton-Union fifth grader, Nathan Warner. Despite his youth and a combination of developmental disabilities, Nathan has already turned over several stones and pursued numerous interests. And he has no intention of slowing down.

When asked about his hobbies, Nathan’s eyes light up and instantly captivate the attention of those around him. His fun-loving charisma may not be unusual for someone his age, but his genuine heart and personality radiate in a way that’s entirely unique for a person of any age.

This enthusiasm is especially evident whenever Nathan is involved with his church, Ginghamsburg Church, in Tipp City. With family and faith being the most important things in his life, church is an essential part of Nathan’s character. As an active congregation member, Nathan has attended several of the church’s mission trips, the most recent one being to Hocking Hills.

While there, Nathan and his fellow church members packed food bags to give to those in need, loading the lunches into wagons and distributing them to passers-by throughout the day. Even though the task was exhausting—having to trek around the park all day, wagons in tow—Nathan didn’t quit. Instead, he persevered simply because he says, “I like helping people.”

He proved his character on that trip at the end of one particularly long day.

After spending several hours packing lunches, pulling heavy wagons, and handing out meals to those in need, many volunteers were ready to take a much-deserved break, enjoy their own meals, and then turn in for the day. Nathan was no different. When a young mother and her daughter came to Nathan’s volunteer group, they came in search of one last packed lunch. They hadn’t eaten in quite some time, so they came to Hocking Hills when they heard about the food the church volunteers were distributing throughout the day. When they arrived, the mother and daughter stopped a couple of the other volunteer groups asking for food, but they soon learned they were too late—all the lunches had been handed out. The pair didn’t give up though and continued down the trails until they found another volunteer group. That’s when they met up with Nathan and his fellow church members.

Unfortunately, Nathan’s group was no different than the others and were out of food. Seeing the disappointment in the little girl’s face, and the concern in her mother’s eyes, Nathan didn’t want to send them away empty-handed. So, he scoured his group’s wagon for any leftover food. Despite being told several times there were no leftovers, Nathan continued to search every nook and cranny of his group’s wagon. But, after several minutes went by, he wasn’t able to find anything substantial to give away.

Nathan persisted though and proceeded to ask others for assistance, only to come up empty-handed. The mother and daughter began to turn away, but Nathan came up with a solution. Though he was tired and hungry himself, Nathan gave his sandwich and bag of chips to the woman and her daughter—much to their appreciation. This selfless act only further demonstrates Nathan’s considerate demeanor. It also makes it easy to understand why he wants to be a public figure as an adult.

When asked about what they want to be when they grow up, it’s not uncommon for many kids to say they want to be an actor. Whether it be for the fame, the money, or simply the love of acting, the reason behind this decision is different for every child, and it’s no different for Nathan.

Yes, he admits he wants to become an actor so he’ll be famous one day, but Nathan also aims to use the public platform as a way to make a difference. For Nathan, getting the opportunity to share his story and inspire kids like him to follow their dreams is an instrumental aspect of his wanting to be an actor.

Though he’s not officially all grown up yet, Nathan has already started his acting career by serving as the lead-man in Riverside’s video, “What is Self-Advocacy?” that was published in December 2017. While filming the video, some of Nathan’s peers weren’t comfortable taking on the main speaking role. Nathan, however, jumped on the opportunity and welcomed whatever responsibility he was given if it meant helping everyone else.

Nathan’s dedication and selflessness have made him an integral part of the Riverside family since he first connected with the organization in October 2017. With the encouragement from his mom, Stacy, and his Riverside caseworker, Patrick Kilbane, Nathan is constantly looking for new ways to be involved both with the organization and within the Miami County community.

Currently, there’s a program in Vandalia that puts on two plays a year, and of course Nathan—the budding actor he is—would love to be a part of them. So, Stacy is looking into getting Nathan involved in their productions, as well as investigating other acting opportunities around the Miami County community for him to pursue. Nathan would also love to take acting classes so he can hone is already existing skills and develop new ones along the way.

Aside from his acting aspirations, Nathan absolutely loves anything to do with music and has for as long as he can remember. This fondness of music, especially for bells and the drums, has drawn him to music programs throughout the county. When the Miami County YMCA held their first Drums Alive group fitness class, Nathan enjoyed attending with his dad and getting the chance to play some music. Now that the YMCA has brought the program back, Nathan hopes to participate in their upcoming sessions. At school, Nathan knows that once he’s in junior high he will try out for both show choir and drama club. Joining the school band is also one of the other many things on Nathan’s to-do list, with the percussion section being his number one interest.

Nathan is an active kid though, so his hobbies don’t end there—far from it, actually. He also enjoys learning about the past—watching history programs on television and reading books like the Magic Treehouse series whenever he gets the chance. And unlike many kids his age, Nathan prefers to wake up early in the morning so he is the first one to eat breakfast and watch television. Whenever his dad is home in the morning, Nathan enjoys eating breakfast with him because he makes the best pancakes.

The list of his activities, hobbies, and interests could go on—and quite possibly fill an entire book. Nathan’s genuine love of life and care for others serves as constant motivation for him to continue discovering new things to try and finding more people to help. According to Nathan, with the continued support from God, his family, and the Riverside staff, he hopes to make a difference in the lives of everyone he meets. We know we can’t wait to watch as he continues his heartwarming journey and becomes the inspiring young man he’s destined to be.