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HHS student named Best Buddies Spirit of Courage award recipient

Higley student Jake Capstick’s infectious smile fills every classroom and hallway he enters on campus. He’s admired by teachers and peers alike for his outlook and courage.

For all that and more, Jake was honored this month with the Best Buddies Arizona 2019 Spirit of Courage Award.

Jake was nominated by Brittany Wittenberg, the Best Buddies advisor at Higley High in Gilbert. Her nomination summed up Jake’s contributions to the campus and his peers.

“Jake has cerebral palsy, is non-verbal, in a wheelchair, and needs assistance with every daily activity. However, he doesn’t let this stop him,” she wrote. “There are many lessons Jake has taught his peers and myself over the last 5 years, (including) don’t listen to people when they tell you you can’t do something if that’s a goal you want to reach, be kind to others and always have the back of those you care about. Jake is VERY protective over those he cares about.”

Jake was thrilled with the honor.

“I love to talk to people. Ms. Wittenberg and Mr. Robert (Lafayette) help me become a better person,” he communicated through his eye-gaze device. “They showed me how to be more courageous and independent. To me courage is never giving up and pushing myself no matter how hard something might be. I’m proud of myself for winning this award. I love Ms. Wittenberg.”

Lafayette is a paraprofessional at Higley High.

Best Buddies Arizona is honoring Jake with the 11th Spirit of Courage Award, said Trevor Paxton, Deputy Director of Development at Best Buddies Arizona.

“The Spirit of Courage Award is a chance for us to showcase the incredible depth of strength, passion, and love shown by the buddies in our programs, and the impact these amazing individuals have on their peers, their teachers, and everyone who meets them,” he wrote. “Jake Capstick is one of the most easygoing, fun-loving people I know. It’s impossible to not smile when you’re around him, so selecting him as the recipient of the 2019 Spirit of Courage Award at our 16th Annual Spirit of Friendship Gala was an easy choice. We are truly honored that such a bright, capable, and passionate young man is a representative and ambassador of Best Buddies, and we cannot wait to celebrate with him on this special night.”