ESP’s Superheroes: Making an Impact on our Community and Beyond!

These are leaders who keep Athens and our ESP community strong. They are business owners, physical therapists, sheriffs, and teachers. We are proud to honor these eight individuals as ESP’s Superheroes. We think they are outstanding individuals who show up for our families in a flash and work to smash any obstacles our families experience. Thank you so much to these individuals who not only serve ESP, but the greater community of Athens and Watkinsville. 

Erin Barger

Project Manager | Envision Athens
Big Jump Celebrity Jumper | Extra Special People

In her free time where she’s not being a superhero for ESP, Erin Barger is the project manager for Envision Athens, a multi-dimensional strategy that will serve as the foundation of the Community and Economic Development Plan.  

ESP’s mission hits close to home because she began her career serving adults with disabilities. Erin’s involvement with ESP began when she became friends with Laura Whitaker a few years ago. She has attended Big Hearts, Java Joy events, and the Kick it up for Kyla 5K. 

She is one of our Big Jump Celebrity Jumpers and loves supporting ESP at every opportunity. Erin humbly said she wants her sidekick Lily to be the celebrity, but we all know how loved Erin is in the community.

When describing ESP she said, “I think it’s an extraordinary place filled with extraordinary people.” 

Erin previously worked in a refugee resettlement in China as part of the U.S. Peace Corps. Afterwards, Erin completed graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill before moving to Athens. Erin has worked on knocking out poverty across north Georgia and strives to live by the Athenian oath in hopes that she will transmit the city more beautiful and greater, to her children and others. 

Daniel Epting

COO | Epting Events

Daniel Epting is the COO of Epting Events and works alongside his father and brother. Daniel has helped wham out cooking meals for our families. To help keep his employees at Epting Events working, and not wanting food to go to waste, Daniel teamed up with ESP to deliver ready-made, healthy, delicious meals to 100 families. He, along with Epting Events, has given 2,000 meals to our families. 

Before his career at Epting Events, Daniel spent a year on the road changing the life story of a teen with muscular dystrophy in the documentary “Darius Goes West”. 

“ESP is important not just to me, but to my entire family, because [Darius] opened my eyes to the struggles of families with disabilities face and ways my entire family can get involved.” 

He has been an active hero with ESP since the first Big Hearts in 2010 and has used his powers to contribute to Lead Athens, NKA, Club, Big Hearts, and other ESP events. 

In addition to making 2,000 meals for our families, Daniel has used his latest company, A Good Story Foods, to have customers donate a meal pack for ESP families and other nonprofits. A Good Story Foods gives its customers the Eptings’ best already-made meals and a story along with the meal. These generous meals will be free to our families and other nonprofits. 

Jennifer Dollander

Owner | Alumni Cookie Dough
Big Jump Celebrity Jumper | Extra Special People

When Jennifer Dollander is not experimenting with her scrumptious cookie dough recipes, she is a fighter for ESP! 

Jennifer is the owner of Alumni Cookie Dough and teaches women later in life how to turn their hobby into a business through Empty Nester Entrepreneur. Previously, Jennifer was an elementary special education teacher for twelve years in Oconee County and served many of our ESP participants. She has supported ESP through donating proceeds from Alumni Cookie Dough to Java Joy and ESP, and is a Big Jump Celebrity Jumper this year.

“I saw first-hand the impact ESP had on their [participants] lives and now transitioning to entrepreneurship, it gave me the opportunity to give back a little bit more,” said Jennifer. 

She loves ESP and Java Joy and is excited to have any opportunity to give back to ESP. Jennifer is a wife and mom to five children. When her children recently went skydiving for their birthdays, she refused to jump. Now, she is taking the plunge only for ESP! 

Jennifer is passionate about her career, her family, and helping women follow their dreams while stepping outside their comfort zones to find ultimate happiness and success. 

Madison Franklin

Special Education Teacher | Commerce Middle School

Madison Franklin is a first year full-time teacher at Commerce Middle School and previously substituted in various classrooms. She became a long-term substitute teacher in an ESP participant’s class and during this time, she helped the students and parents feel at ease.

She became a full-time teacher and has stood by the ESP parents in creating a more engaging teaching environment, a schedule, and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for her students. 

Madison has gone above the call of duty of being a teacher for one of our ESP participants during this time. She brought over a student’s stander from school so he could work on his essential skills of standing while at home. She has been doing social distance visits with her students and brought each student a windowsill greenhouse and flower seeds to enhance their learning and education. 

“In our current situation, she has helped us all feel at ease and encouraged us along the way as we dive into teaching our kids at home,” said ESP mom, Kelley McDaniel.

Tim Bryant

News Director | Cox Media Group Athens 
Big Jump Celebrity Jumper | Extra Special People

Tim Bryant uses his superpower of words and writing as he has served as the News Director for WGAU since 1998. Tim is also an anchor and reporter for WSB Radio, ABC, and the Associated Press. He previously was a commentator for the BBC and Radio New Zealand.  

Tim is also the co-host of “Classic City Today” which airs 6 am to 10 am weekday mornings on 98.7FM and AM 1340 WGAU in Athens. His career has taken him to Augusta, Tallahassee, and he has provided guest commentary and analysis on stations across the U.K. and New Zealand. 

Tim couldn’t wait to take the leap at Big Jump this year after seeing his coworker, Logan Booker, take the plunge last year. He has been planning to be a part of Big Jump and was thrilled when he was asked to be a Celebrity Jumper. 

When he’s not on the air, Tim is doing good for the community and is a marathon runner. 

Daneille (Dani) Magazin

Physical Therapist | Activekidz & Adult Therapy

Daneille Magazin has been using her superhero powers of moving to get our participants active even from home! Daneille has been doing virtual physical therapy sessions with some of our older participants and is a supporter of ESP. Activekidz & Adult Therapy is even a Fan Club member and many of the other therapists attend Big Hearts.

Daneille graduated with a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. After graduation, she worked at South Fulton Medical Center where she worked in in-patient, out-patient, rehabilitation, and in the NICU. Her work in the NICU was her first exposure to pediatrics.  

Daneille looks out for her patients constantly and if they are ever in need, she does her best to find them resources and fulfill their needs. When one of her patients was being taken care of by his grandmother, she found a free Hoyer lift they could use so the grandmother could take care of her grandson and not injure herself. 

In 1998, Daneille left her work as a physical therapist to follow another dream to be a missionary in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. She lived and worked there for 14 years and married her husband, Darko, and had two sons. In 2012, she returned back to the U.S to her hometown of Athens with her family and began to pursue resuming her career as a pediatric therapist. She loves working again with these special children and being a part of Activekidz.

James Hale

Captain | Oconee Sheriff Office
Big Jump Celebrity Jumper | Extra Special People

James Hale stops evil in its tracks as a Captain for the Oconee Sheriff Office. When he’s not saving the citizens of Oconee county, he is seen supporting ESP, flying out of airplanes, and being around his family. 

James was born and raised in Oconee County and joined the U.S. Army as a communications specialist. He then became a paratrooper and flying was his favorite pastime. After leaving the Army, he returned to Oconee County. 

He is a husband, a father to four children, a trained EMT, a FBI National Academy graduate, and a current Oconee County volunteer firefighter. James has over 20 years of law enforcement experience and is excited to be doing his first free-fall jump at Big Jump.

“ESP has been around for many years. When I was in high school, I was a mentor to some ESP participants who I graduated high school with. To this day, I have lunch with my mentee once a month and we always talk about the different things ESP is doing,” said James. 

He used his birthday to raise $1,000 for ESP and his social media to spread the word on Java Joy’s Chick-fil-A Award. 

Lainey Wilson

Country Music Singer | BBR Music Group
Big Jump Celebrity Jumper | Extra Special People

Lainey Wilson is pinned as an “Artist to Watch” in 2020 by Pandora, The Boot, and Sounds Like Nashville and included in CMT’s “Next Women of Country” program. Lainey kicked off the year by making her Grand Ole Opry debut—a dream come true for the Baskin, Louisiana native. 

Lainey is a Celebrity Judge for this year’s Big Hearts and sang “You Are My Sunshine” in the beginning of the pageant to honor and remember our participants who have passed. At Big Hearts, Lainey fell in love with ESP’s mission and became a friend to one of our participants, Nick Smith. She bravely agreed to be a Celebrity Jumper for this year’s Big Jump and is side kicking with Nick. 

Lainey is from a small farming community, and moved to Nashville in a camper trailer to pursue a career in music. Since then, she landed a TV placement in Paramount Network’s hit series Yellowstone and had co-writer credits on songs recorded by fellow country artists, including Luke Combs. Lainey has performed for sold-out crowds throughout the US, UK, and Germany with Rodney Atkins, Tyler Farr, Ashley McBryde, Randy Houser, Josh Turner, Morgan Wallen, and more. Lainey has no plans of slowing down as she turns her momentum into a movement.

We are honored to have so many dedicated, hard-working, and generous individuals in this community making a difference for ESP and its participants. You might have noticed a few celebrity jumpers in the mix of our superheroes, and we’re especially excited to share these heroes willing to fly for ESP. You can be a hero too, by supporting their jump or choosing to jump as well.

Support our Big Jump Superheroes: https://bit.ly/OurJumpers 

Become a superhero: http://bit.ly/BigJump20 

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