Family inspires career for student-athlete

Nov 8, 2012

Bobbi runningBobbi Custer came to Heidelberg University to be a student-athlete. “Not many schools will let you be a music major and an athlete,” she said. “At Heidelberg I am able to do both.”

For four years, she has been doing both, and so much more. As an instrumental (French horn) music major, she participates in ensembles, concerts and private lessons. As a cross country athlete, she attends daily practices and travels to races. Add to that classes, studying, eating and sleeping, and Bobbi is very busy. She’s also a member of Campus Fellowship, a student ambassador, a tutor and involved with Greek life.

That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

“Yeah, I’m busy,” she said. “But running relieves so much stress, and I feel able to tackle more.”

She has kept adding more. Along the way, Bobbi added another major: business. Her interest came from working for the family business.

Bobbi’s parents own a business called Down Size Farm. They provide programming and employment opportunities for adults with disabilities. The adults are able to interact with animals, make crafts, learn backing skills and make friends. “It creates more opportunities for special needs adults,” said Bobbi.

In addition to the activities on the farm, the family also helps the adults gain part-time employment in the community. They are able to earn a paycheck by stocking at a grocery store, sweeping at a tire shop or even helping a local farmer bail hay. There are not many resources in the area for special needs adults and Down Size Farms fills that hole.

Bobbi and her bothersBobbi’s connection to the business came when she started helping out in the office, answering phones and filing. Soon, she ended up handling all the billing. “I always liked working with numbers,” she said.

The connection runs deeper than an interest in business. Bobbi has a younger brother, a younger adopted brother and an older foster sister all with special needs. “I haven’t known anything different,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t understand, but they are normal to me.”

After college, her goal is to open a coffee shop that hires special needs adults. “Hopefully it will be successful and spread throughout Ohio,” she said. “These people need a place to work, too.”

Everything she has done at Heidelberg will find a place in her life. Her music education will be involved, whether through programming or even giving lessons to area children. She plans to maintain her running as well.

And she should. As a member of the cross country team, Bobbi earned All-Conference honors this fall. She was the first female in the past 10 years at Heidelberg to accomplish this. She was also the first ever to do so on a 6K course.

Her career aspirations aren’t typical and will require hard work. But Bobbi’s shown she can do it. “I know it won’t be easy,” she said. “But it will be worth it.”