Meet Simpson’s superfan


by Nick Hermon, Special to The Simpsonian

Zac Anthony, also known as Z.A., said working at Simpson is his dream job.

Students have probably heard Anthony talking to someone at a table in Kent from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Anthony, 31, started working for Chartwells in September 2015. He does prep work, washes dishes and vacuums the floors.

“It’s not obvious he has a disability,” said Molly McCreary, president of Best Buddies.

Anthony was born 12 weeks prematurely with a form of cerebral palsy, a disorder that appears in infancy or early childhood and impairs muscle control caused by damage to the developing brain, and spent the first four months of his life in the hospital.

His mother notes, “What Zac lacks in cognitive and fine motor skills, he makes up for in social skills.”

Anthony is highly involved on campus. On top of working for Chartwells, he is the batboy for the Simpson baseball team and holds an officer position in Best Buddies, a campus organization which pairs college students to an adult with disabilities.

Luke Neitzel is Anthony’s match in Best Buddies.

“Zac is so personable that he could talk to anyone about anything,” Neitzel said.

Anthony has a lot to talk about. He’s met Fred Hoiberg, medaled multiple times at the Special Olympics, was the team manager for multiple sports, was recently inducted into the Carlisle High School Hall of Fame and went to Indiana last summer for a Best Buddies leadership conference.

“I like Best Buddies because we can mingle with college students. We get taken out to places. We can hang out and have movie nights,” Anthony said.

If there’s one thing he loves, it’s being included and being “one of the guys.”

Neitzel and Anthony’s friendship has bloomed beyond Best Buddies. Not only do they hang out, but so do Neitzel’s friends and roommates.

“Luke and Zac have a really good relationship. They were our buddy pair of the month last month” McCreary said.

While it seems that Best Buddies is set up to help an adult with disabilities, Neitzel holds an opposing viewpoint.

“The mission of Best Buddies is to create an opportunity where a person with disabilities is able to quote unquote ‘have a best buddy.’ To me it is the exact opposite of that, and that is what, I think, is the most misunderstood thing about the program. Zac has made such a significant impact on my life and allowed me the opportunity to develop a brighter, happier outlook on life while just being himself and becoming great friends in the process.”

Whether he’s doing laundry for the football team, returning bats to the dugout or simply sweeping the floors in Kent, he said he couldn’t be happier.

People who know Anthony said he has a heart of gold and is proud to work at Simpson.

“I always wanted to go to college,” Anthony said. “This is my college life. I like it. I love it. Simpson is my home.”