Student Donates Make to Autism Unit

Posted on: December 14, 2016

MHS students Tanner LeRoy, Mrs. Trena Panko, Aaron Strait, Jackson Witsken, and Yanni Seward

Milford graduate Aaron Strait has used his talents to give back to his high school. Aaron, who graduated from Milford High School in 2011, visited the high school on December 7, and donated $850 to the autism unit. Aaron presented the check to his former teacher Trena Panko.  Aaron earned this money through the sales of his artwork. Aaron sells both paintings and cards reproduced from his art. His work is inspired by history, trains, and sports. Aaron also works for Panera Bread in Milford.

"Aaron is a very gifted and caring individual and I just love him. We are so proud of his contributions and appreciate his generosity," said Trena Panko. "He has been working as an artist since 2010, and his talents have been nurtured by his family and his school community." 

Aaron has exhibited his artwork throughout the area and plans to have a show in Milford in 2017.  He and his family established Aaron’s Art for Autism, in which Aaron uses proceeds from his artwork to support local causes that work with students with autism.

According to Mrs. Panko, Aaron's donation will go towards expenses related to the classroom service dog the Milford High School's autism unit will be receiving through 4 Paws out of Xenia, Ohio.

While he was a student at Milford High School, Aaron participated in the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCDD) Bridges to Transition Program.  Bridges is summer youth program designed to give students with special needs the opportunity to experience various job settings in the community.  

Upon graduation from high school, Aaron worked with the CCDD’s Community Employment Department and was placed at Panera. He now handles a busy schedule of food prep in the morning and helps serve completed orders to customers. He has become a familiar figure at Panera Milford and enjoys meeting the customers who come to the store each day.  In addition, Aaron is a loyal volunteer at the Clermont County Library where he prepares and inventories new materials to the library.

In 2014, Aaron was photographed for CCDD’s Awareness Month billboard campaign.  Aaron was also featured in CCDD’s public service announcement that ran on Local 12 throughout 2015.  In 2016, his picture was featured in a four-second commercial during the Super Bowl.