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Ron Fuller and Kathy Buckley, keynote Speaker at the recent disability awards luncheon.

Ron Fuller has been employed by Olan Mills for 26 years. For 24 of those years he has been a double amputee, the victim of juvenile diabetes diagnosed when he was 14. He lost his first leg in 1979, just a year after he joined the portrait studio company. Five years later, his second leg was amputated.

Despite the daily challenges presented by his disability, Fuller consistently receives "Distinguished" performance reviews for his work in the church publishing department. Since 1990 he has missed only two days of work.

Fuller’s outstanding record of service to Olan Mills was recognized last fall when he was presented with the 2004 Employee of the Year Award from the Southeast Tennessee Placement Consortium (STPC).

"Ron’s dedication to the job, and his attitude toward the company and his fellow employees lifts everyone up a notch on a daily basis," says Terry Blunt, Olan Mills vice president of human resources. "The obstacles he overcomes and his remarkable attendance record are obvious proof of his worthiness to be employee of the year."

Fuller wears two prosthetic devices and never uses a wheelchair or electric cart at work. He relies on a cane only when walking on uneven surfaces or in large crowds. He also does yard work and enjoys vegetable gardening at the home he shares with his wife, Betty.

Fuller says that humor has helped him through difficult times and that "you can’t wrap yourself up in self-pity."

Co-workers and supervisors praise Fuller for his efficiency, attention to detail, expertise, and ability to work together with others.

"Ron Fuller is a shining example of the hundreds of disabled individuals who are performing first-rate jobs at area companies," says Carol Martin of the UT Center on Disability and Employment in partnership with the Tennessee Division of Rehabilitation Services. "There are many more people like Ron who are seeking employment and who would make excellent employees. We hope Chattanooga companies will keep these people in mind when they have job openings."

Martin is the point of contact for all agencies represented in the Southeast Tennessee Job Placement Consortium. She may be reached at (423) 634-6725 or