By Emma Bowen Meyer For The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Some graduating seniors stand out from their peers due to academic achievement or athletic prowess, but Jesus “Chuy” Llamas is known for his compassion for others and his strong faith.
“It’s amazing when a child is the only one in his family that comes to church,” said Donna Madewell, pastoral assistant and director of Christian education at First Presbyterian Church. “He started coming to VBS one year when he was young and has always gotten himself to church ever since. If the doors are open, Chuy is here.”
Not content to simply sit in class or service, he is a member of the choir, the bell choir and has traveled on mission trips with the youth group.
“I enjoy being around my church family,” said Chuy, a senior at Anderson High School. “They have been faithful to me and even sponsored me on the mission trips because I couldn’t afford to go. I don’t have the easiest life, but going on the trips, I see people dealing with situations that are a lot worse. I learned not to take things for granted.”
Chuy’s family moved to Anderson from Toledo the summer before his fifth grade year. His mother moved back approximately a year ago, leaving a difficult distance between them. He lives with his father and two siblings.
“He has a huge heart and a lot of consideration for others,” said Kelly Novotney, who cares for her disabled son around the clock. “I don’t trust a lot of people to watch my son, Brandon, but I know Chuy will take good care of him. He is 19 but he has cerebral hypoplasia, which means his cerebellum did not grow to the proper size. When Chuy is with him, I have security and peace of mind and a chance to get out for a little while.”
Not only has Chuy watched Brandon for a few hours, but overnight as well. For three seasons Chuy even walked the bases with Brandon so he could play in the Challenger’s (baseball) League in Pendleton. Watching Brandon at Special Olympics and a special bowling league helped fill Chuy’s already-busy schedule.
“I enjoy being around him,” he said. “I was a peer tutor with the special education kids, too. We are all God’s children so we’ve got to love one another.”
Somehow he also finds time for the Anderson Area Children’s Choir, the Senior Executive Council and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). To make ends meet for his family, he is working at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Services and Ruby Tuesdays.
“He is very personable,” said Madewell. “He has this warmth and compassion about him. He’s a big, strong guy, but he is always available to everyone in the church to help with what they need.”
Looking ahead, Chuy is trying to acquire some scholarships and hopes to enroll for some core courses at Ivy Tech next year. With an eye on a nursing degree (with the high goal of nurse practitioner), he plans to transfer to Ball State or Indiana University when the finances are available.
“I’ve always been a people person,” he said. “I like to help people.”