Fun for the Bickel Family

This year, Jefferson City Magazine recognizes 10 Ones To Watch—a group of up-and-comers who are not only high-character individuals, but who also have achieved things that have bettered the community. This group inspires through faith, drive, and dedication, and they have shown effective leadership in both their professional and personal involvements.

Lesley Bickel’s roles have evolved from working professional to full-time caregiver and advocate, who’s serving community members through inclusion and accessibility.

Growing up, I was, as my dad described me, a party looking for a place to happen. I grew up in Jefferson City and couldn’t wait to get out! I went to college in Springfield, started dating a Jeff City boy, and that was that. After graduation, I moved back, married that Jeff City boy, and started our life. I worked in a few different professions before having my daughter in 2011. Her birth set my life in a completely different direction. Now, instead of focusing on a career, I am her mom, caregiver, and advocate. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy within the first year of her life, and it changed something inside me. I’ve become an advocate for those with disabilities and work to create a more fun, and joyful world for my daughter and people like her. I am still a party looking for a place to happen, but now that party needs to be accessible! I want to create experiences that allow all people to be included and feel like they belong. I serve my community primarily through volunteer work. I am the co-chair of a disability ministry a tour church. Over 90% of people with disabilities do not attend any faith gatherings for a myriad of reasons, and I wanted to be a small part of the solution that removes as many barriers as possible.

I feel most grateful for my husband. He has always been my biggest supporter and has never asked me to be anything I’m not.

I’m the queen of loopholes. When I make goals, I try to hack the system and find the path of least resistance. I decided that strict goals weren’t going to work for me. I work with determining the end goal model. I take a look around every so often and think, “Is this getting me closer to my end goal?” If not, I course-correct and try anew way.

My best involves being with people, making them laugh, and seeing joy in their faces. I like when people are finding the silly in the serious and feel completely themselves.

I think people are having a hard time relating to other people. It seems we try to find any reason to divide people. This separation causes misunderstanding, which then leads to further division. I try to follow Jesus’ example to lead with love and value the whole person. The more time we spend with actual real humans, and less time listening or reading to what the media says, we learn so much more about the opinions and beliefs of people who are different from us.

I WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME…focused on what I’m doing in the moment. So often, I look at tasks that need to be completed and focus on getting them done instead of enjoying all the things I get to do in a day.

Music is so healing for me. I usually find something upbeat, positive, and sing along as loudly as possible.

I feel successful as a mom when my daughter’s needs are met, and she is healthy and happy. I feel successful as a wife when my husband feels valued and as a ministry leader when people feel welcomed and included at church.

When I was younger, I had a lot of anxiety around school. My dad told me “No matter what, they can’t eat you for lunch.” That advice has carried me through so many obstacles. It’s just a reminder to not take myself too seriously and gives me confidence in such a funny way. Sometimes people won’t like you, but they can never eat you for lunch, so what does it matter?

I see a community as a group of people with a common goal— even if the path to that goal looks dierent to everyone. I think the best communities value each person’s individual strengths and allow everyone to excel. What makes me feel at home is knowing that I am appreciated for who I am and what I bring to the table.

The desire to be seen, valued, and understood.

I would like to be remembered as someone who genuinely cared about others and who was always looking for joy.

Binder ball fields during a Miracle league softball game.

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