“Downtown Nate” and a school that “gets” inclusion

IMG_0706This past Sunday, I had the honor of being introduced at Martindale Christian Fellowship Church by Nate Manko, son of Martindale’s Senior Pastor, Steve Manko.

Nate’s a very busy senior at Louisville High School in Louisville, OH. Nate’s a member of the high school’s marching band as well as the pep band that plays during the winter at home basketball games. Yesterday, Nate did a great job on the drums in the praise band at the church, in addition to handling my introduction. On top of  all of his commitments at school and at church, Nate is a key performer for the Stark County Royal Knights Special Olympics basketball team. Martindale makes its’ gymnasium available to the Royal Knights (state championship contenders in recent years) as their practice facility.

Nate had a very complicated medical course as a little guy. Because of brain trauma at the time of his birth, Nate experiences some spasticity in his left arm and leg. Another consequence of his brain trauma was a vulnerability to seizures that occurred all too frequently and were poorly controlled by medication. Nate finally had to have surgery (performed by Dr. Ben Carson!) in which a section of his brain was removed to stop the seizures. Nate’s overcome all of the obstacles placed in his path, has performed very well in high school, and has become a highly valued member of the Louisville High School community.

1962819_790038637715963_6849615238371026755_nThe administration and students of Louisville High School found a spectacular way to demonstrate Nate’s value to the community this past week.

The school administration approached Nate’s parents with the idea of moving one of Nate’s basketball games to the Louisville High gym, so that Nate could have a “Senior Night”  experience comparable to other athletes at the school.  This past Wednesday, the Royal Knights faced off against their local rivals, the Stark County Red Dawgs. The school gave Nate’s team a player introduction experience worthy of an NBA team! (The introduction of the starting lineup starts at the 3:45 mark in the video).

Nate’s grandparents received a special introduction on the occasion of their 65th wedding anniversary! The pep band was there to perform, and a number of band parents volunteered to run the concession stands. Better yet, over 800 parents, family members and Louisville students were present to cheer on Nate and his team! The attendance last Wednesday for Nate and the Royal Knights exceeded the average attendance this season at home games for the Louisville varsity. Nate has developed a deadly three point shot, which was on display this past Wednesday night. Here are some of the highlights…

The Royal Knights defeated their cross-town rivals 54-41, and Nate didn’t disappoint the hometown crowd by drilling a couple of three pointers. Most impressive was the manner in which Louisville High School demonstrated the extent to which they value one of their seniors playing on a basketball team outside of school who could have easily been overlooked.

Congratulations to the administration, staff and students of Louisville High School. You guys get it!


GA-Social-Media-StephenGrcevich-1Consider joining us this winter for Key Ministry’s online group study that will accompany our blog series…Sin, Mental Illness and the Church. This study will be a combination of Bible reading/study and supplemental readings/material to enlighten participants as we examine the following questions…

  • How has the understanding of mental illness evolved in the evangelical movement in America over the past half-century?
  • How do past and current attitudes in the church influence outreach efforts to families of children and teens impacted by mental illness?
  • What can we learn from Scripture of God’s purposes in the lives of those impacted by mental illness?
  • How can we help more kids and families impacted by mental illness to experience the love of Christ through involvement in a local church?

Anyone can join us, but a Facebook account is required. Click here to register!

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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3 Responses to “Downtown Nate” and a school that “gets” inclusion

  1. Ann Holmes says:

    Wow! Thanks for posting, Steve! What a great story on many levels!


  2. David & Joyce Wing says:

    A great witness of God’s love. It is our joy to know and love the Manko family. Martindale Christian Felllowship is a warm and loving church.
    David & Joyce Wing


  3. Pingback: What the church can learn from a basketball game | Church4EveryChild

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