Hometown Hero: Bethany Bloss

RUSSELL, Ky. (WSAZ) -- When WSAZ.com went to Russell, we met a very unassuming girl named Bethany who has a big heart and doesn’t even realize it.

At first she figured she got the award for just "helping kids and community service," which probably is something that could work in many different cases, but Bethany's case is a bit more special.

Let’s talk about one kid in particular. There's a boy in her grade named Charles. This precious boy happens to be diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome -- its on the spectrum of autism.

It turns out that Bethany and Charles first met in the first grade as part of a single project where they got to help each other when it came to working and getting along. But that was five years ago, and Bethany has simply enjoyed being with Charles ever since…

Charles' mother Ruby Stambaugh says through this time, Bethany has helped Charles with his studies: his reading, math, science, social studies -- anything that involves schoolwork.

Bethany says she likes to explain things and work with other people, and she loves it when she can tell that they learned something (and enjoyed learning it). Ruby also points out that Bethany has a way with Charles -- as indeed when it comes to children with autism you have to know how to communicate properly. Bethany is a natural, and it shows.

Sean Horne is the Principal at Bethany's school, and he says that if it weren't for things like the assembly they gathered together to present Bethany with the Hometown Hero award, one might not even have known Bethany or that she was at the school at all.

He says she's a great kid and a pleasure to work with. He pointed out that good citizenship in a school is hard to find and can sometimes go unrecognized. But not today. He, for one, is quite proud to see her have this award.

Another tidbit worth mentioning: The scourge of bullying has made headlines in many stories, both regionally and nationally, and Middle School is typically a very turbulent time in school life. Bethany's care has provided a watchful eye and a safe environment over the years that allowed Charles the consistency and security to help him become more sociable. A welcome change-of-pace from what typically grabs the spotlight.

Bethany's perspective about it all is wise beyond her years, and simply boils down to this: "Taking time out and helping kids can pay off in the future". How much more so for the people like Charles, who has experienced her patient, kind demeanor for these five years.

Congratulations to Bethany Bloss -- this week's Hometown Hero.

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