5 uplifting stories: Middie track standout completes her late mother’s wishes, Oxford man wins ‘Forged in Fire’ and more

Leelah McGuire, 17, graduated from Middletown High School this year at Barnitz Stadium, two years after her mother died. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Leelah McGuire, 17, graduated from Middletown High School this year at Barnitz Stadium, two years after her mother died. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Here is a look at five positive Butler County stories that were in the news this week.


Track standout completes her late mother’s wishes, graduates from Middletown

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Leelah McGuire, 17, graduated from Middletown High School this year at Barnitz Stadium, two years after her mother died. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Leelah McGuire, 17, graduated from Middletown High School this year at Barnitz Stadium, two years after her mother died. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Leelah McGuire, 17, graduated from Middletown High School this year at Barnitz Stadium, two years after her mother died. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Twelve days before she started her junior year at Middletown High School, Leelah McGuire’s mother Chawnda Hunter died unexpectedly.

Her father Lance Hunter died from cancer when she was in middle school.

“Very confused,” McGuire said when asked how she felt after her 50-year-old mother died on Aug. 1, 2020.

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Butler County Children Services celebrates graduates for their perseverance

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Butler County Children Services holds a graduation party every year for foster children in their care. They celebrated 12 graduates on June 9. Pictured here are Abby Sexton, independent living and emancipation coordinator and Kira P. who graduated from Miami University's Hamilton campus .CONTRIBUTED

Butler County Children Services holds a graduation party every year for foster children in their care. They celebrated 12 graduates on June 9. Pictured here are Abby Sexton, independent living and emancipation coordinator and Kira P. who graduated from Miami University's Hamilton campus .CONTRIBUTED

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Butler County Children Services holds a graduation party every year for foster children in their care. They celebrated 12 graduates on June 9. Pictured here are Abby Sexton, independent living and emancipation coordinator and Kira P. who graduated from Miami University's Hamilton campus .CONTRIBUTED

Foster children face uphill battles every day of their lives so when they win one like graduating high school, trade schools or college Butler County Children Services celebrates them in a big way.

Last week BCCS had its annual graduation party to honor a dozen students who beat the odds, nine graduated from high school, one from college and two earned their certificates at trade schools. Abby Sexton, independent living and emancipation coordinator, always says it is her favorite day on the job and it is remarkable because most kids don’t get that far.

“Not only have they battled all of the stuff that goes with coming into foster care, whether it’s abuse, maltreatment, delinquency issues, mental health issues they also had to battle going into a pandemic,” Sexton said. “Then coming out of a pandemic and trying to function in this new normal that we all seem to have to navigate through. I just think it’s pretty phenomenal they all stayed, they pushed through and they persevered, despite any obstacle that was thrown at them, they finished.”

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Oxford man wins History Channel’s ‘Forged in Fire’

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Bill Pyles stands outside of his forging workshop with the hammer and gloves he used on the show. His wife and children signed the hammer and gloves with encouraging messages.

Bill Pyles stands outside of his forging workshop with the hammer and gloves he used on the show. His wife and children signed the hammer and gloves with encouraging messages.

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Bill Pyles stands outside of his forging workshop with the hammer and gloves he used on the show. His wife and children signed the hammer and gloves with encouraging messages.

When Bill Pyles had to undergo spinal surgery after suffering two broken vertebrae, he couldn’t do much during recovery, so he binge-watched television.

More specifically, he watched “Forged in Fire,” a History Channel show where bladesmiths compete in elimination challenges until one remains as the Forged in Fire champion. The Oxford resident was hooked, and after a few episodes, Pyles thought, “I could do that!”

He bought a forge and started pounding and molding steel to resemble a knife. As he continued to practice his skills, he became invested in the craft. He took up forging as a hobby and even sold a few of his knives.

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Joe Nuxhall Foundation has given nearly $1M in scholarships; golf outing to help that continue

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Badin students Reba Sedlacek and Rick Mick greet Joe Nuxhall as Joe Nuxhall Foundation Scholarship Winners Friday at the Elks Club in Hamilton.

Badin students Reba Sedlacek and Rick Mick greet Joe Nuxhall as Joe Nuxhall Foundation Scholarship Winners Friday at the Elks Club in Hamilton.

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Badin students Reba Sedlacek and Rick Mick greet Joe Nuxhall as Joe Nuxhall Foundation Scholarship Winners Friday at the Elks Club in Hamilton.

Joe Nuxhall never went to college, but he knew the importance of education.

Three years after he started his eponymous golf outing, the Ol’ Lefthander redirected its mission to raise money to give to graduating seniors from Butler County’s 14 high schools. In the next few years, the scholarship program will distribute its 1 millionth dollar.

“This event truly was Joe’s baby, and we’re carrying on a legacy that he created 37 years ago that’s done so much good in our community,” said Nuxhall Foundation Executive Director Tyler Bradshaw. “So starting this scholarship backing the ‘80s was a really wise thing for him to do. His favorite day on the calendar every single year was this golf outing, and it’s been good to be able to carry on that tradition in his memory.”

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Monroe superintendent Buskirk grateful for help during first year, pandemic

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Monroe's first-year Superintendent Robert Buskirk credits teachers, staffers and the community with helping him through his first go as a full-time district leader during the third school year impacted by COVID-19. Buskirk is putting the finishing touches on the school year in the fast-growing Monroe Schools and said he is grateful for all the support. Buskirk is pictured speaking at last month's Monroe High School graduation. CONTRIBUTED

Monroe's first-year Superintendent Robert Buskirk credits teachers, staffers and the community with helping him through his first go as a full-time district leader during the third school year impacted by COVID-19. Buskirk is putting the finishing touches on the school year in the fast-growing Monroe Schools and said he is grateful for all the support. Buskirk is pictured speaking at last month's Monroe High School graduation. CONTRIBUTED

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Monroe's first-year Superintendent Robert Buskirk credits teachers, staffers and the community with helping him through his first go as a full-time district leader during the third school year impacted by COVID-19. Buskirk is putting the finishing touches on the school year in the fast-growing Monroe Schools and said he is grateful for all the support. Buskirk is pictured speaking at last month's Monroe High School graduation. CONTRIBUTED

If he had a choice, the leader of Monroe Schools wouldn’t have picked being a first-year superintendent during the third year of a global pandemic, but looking back, Robert Buskirk credits teachers, staffers and the community with helping him through.

Buskirk is putting the finishing touches on his first school year as a leader of the fast-growing Monroe Schools and said he is grateful for all the support.

He saw the community’s close connection to its schools in his first exposure to Monroe.

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AND, for an extra sixth story of the day ...

New summer concert series ‘Sounds at Sunset’ to launch this month in Middletown

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A new concert series, Sounds at Sunset, will kick off this month at Sunset Park in Middletown. The summer concert series will honor Middletonian Tim Lewis, who passed away unexpectedly last year. The founder is Ashley Baumgarten. CONTRIBUTED

A new concert series, Sounds at Sunset, will kick off this month at Sunset Park in Middletown. The summer concert series will honor Middletonian Tim Lewis, who passed away unexpectedly last year. The founder is Ashley Baumgarten. CONTRIBUTED

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A new concert series, Sounds at Sunset, will kick off this month at Sunset Park in Middletown. The summer concert series will honor Middletonian Tim Lewis, who passed away unexpectedly last year. The founder is Ashley Baumgarten. CONTRIBUTED

A new concert series in honor of Middletonian Tim Lewis, who passed away unexpectedly last year, will kick off this week.

“It’s important to remember Tim, number one, and what he was all about. He was involved in the community, he loved his family, friends, and he was about making memories, that’s just who he was,” said Ashley Baumgarten, founder of Sounds at Sunset.

Lewis, co-founder of Broad Street Bash, is remembered for his love for his family and friends as well as his love for music, and a desire to make Middletown a better place.

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