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Elliott Adams honored for making a difference through care

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On Sept. 14, Elliott Adams received an award for Direct Support Professional of the Year for region five, (an area that includes Kalispell), at the Regional Developmental Disabilities Conference. DPPHS received over 30 letters of nomination for Adams who for 10 years cared for the daily needs of Jake Janssen, who was autistic. Only four years older than Jake, Adams has known the Janssen family all his life and remembers when Jake was born. At the age of 18, Adams provided Jake with after-school care until Jake’s parents got home. Adams left the area for a time but when he returned, he became Jake’s full-time caregiver and friend. He explained that “I saw what needed to happen … a place I needed to fill, so I did.”

Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras spoke during the conference about her personal experiences as a primary caregiver and how those you serve impact your life.

Adams said that Jake shaped who he is. Like many direct support professionals, Elliott assisted Jake with his medications, doctor appointments, and recreation activities. Jake especially loved to bowl at the Ronan bowling alley. Elliot frequently brought his dog Suki with him to work, which Jake loved. In fact, he was disappointed if Suki stayed home. 

On April 5, 2023, Jake Janssen passed away, leaving all who knew him feeling lost. Adams said, “Suki doesn’t understand why they no longer go to see Jake.” Adams and Suki are both grieving the loss but are helping each other through their grief.

When asked about his favorite memory of Jake, Adams said, “All of them. I miss him so much. I want everyone to know how important he was to the people who knew him.”

Rich Janssen, Jake’s father, said that “Elliott (Adams) was Jake’s angel.” 

Adams’s girlfriend, Breanna Bilile, said, “I am so proud of him and all he’s done. I am in awe of him.”

The Director of Public Health and Human Services Charlie Brereton said that caregivers are called “to make a difference and serve.” Elliott Adams served Jake Janssen for 10 years, even giving his eulogy. He was awarded for making a difference.

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