BRADFORD–Life changed forever after Stacey Baker, between her junior and senior year at Bradford High School, was involved in a vehicular accident in Columbus, Ohio, in 1989.
She was behind the wheel on her way to Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum, where she was going to serve as a camp counselor.
“It was an All Ohio Vocational Youth Camp,” said Stacey, who was active in the vocational program, FHA Hero, and was a state officer her junior year.
Now, a quadriplegic, as a result of that accident, she has learned to adapt to a new way of life.
“You don’t dwell on it,” said Stacey, who lives near here with her parents, Debbie and Ron. “I’m paralyzed from the neck down. I find ways to make it work. I’ve been blessed with so much. Life went on, and I can’t think about what would have been. It’s all great that happens now.”
Since then she finished high school, graduating from Bradford in 1990.
Despite her paralysis, she was fully onboard to go to college.
She had a dual major in bookkeeping and management at Wright State University, then received her MBA in marketing, graduating magna cum laude.
She has a high regard for the Wright State’s office of disability services.
“They help you develop yourself to be self-sustaining,” she remarked. “They give you a class, hire aides, and let you go. If you need help, they support you, not do things for you.”
Hospitalized for rehabilitation for five months after the accident, she said the Bradford school administration was of assistance.
“They were wonderful,” she said. “They made sure I did graduate with my class.”
After college, she worked for a couple of companies in Dayton, one in human resource management and another in marketing.
She is now working in her father’s business, Baker Financial Insurance Service Inc.
“Dad opened the business in Troy in 2006 and asked me to work for him, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she said. “He does the sales, and I do the office stuff…accounting, marketing and interaction, etc. He was in Troy from 2006-10 and then brought the office back to our home. I really like that, especially in January and February when it’s wintertime,” she said.
Not only does she take care of business at home, but she is also active in the Common Ground Christian Church in town.
“I teach Sunday school class and an adult connect group every Sunday morning,” Stacey said. “Our community is supportive of the church with members from such places as Versailles and Tipp City…a large area.”
She started a Christian book club 20 years ago at the library, which now meets at her church.
“I am always thinking of things that we can do at church to reach people,” she remarked. “I love teaching small groups, and I read a lot for the book club in the Christian fiction genre.”
She also loves gardening and traveling.
“I am now up to 37 different countries and am working on the 38th next year…to Spain,” she said. “I have been to more countries than states, and I do a few countries. My favorites are Norway, England, and France. I loved Russia. It was absolutely beautiful. The sun shines down to gold everywhere.”
She started a travel group with her family, known as Cruising Cousins, in 2006.
“It’s a lot of fun to travel with them,” she said. “It’s mom’s side of the family, but we’ve opened it up to other families. I love to see pictures of people who travel and love to see the world.”
Stacey, who indicated her health is “good,” said she has adapted a way to type and use her phone in her work.
“I’m just as fast as a normal person,” she said. “People have a tendency to underestimate people with disabilities. We work twice as hard, unfortunately, to prove to people we’re just as good or better.”
After her travels, she also started scrapbooking, reflecting on her times here and on the road.
“I’m a Darke County girl and love it,” she said. “I love living in the country. As much as I love to travel, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
The daughter of two parents who met in college in Dayton, Stacey, in high school, was active in all kinds of clubs and, at WSU, was president of the marketing club for a while and was chairman of management in the College of Business.
“I don’t sit around for long. I like to be involved in clubs and activities,” she said.
She also describes herself as an amateur chocolatier, making treats for holidays…chocolate candy, turtles, pretzels, buckeyes, and peppermint.
“Truffles are my favorite,” she said. “I give them out to family and friends.”
There are other interests as well.
She most definitely is planning on attending the Bradford Pumpkin Show, which is underway and will last until Saturday.
“I enter flowers in the Pumpkin Show,” she said. “And I love the Darke County Fair Flower Shows.”
She is proud of the flowers she has growing in their yard at their rural country home.