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A father’s highest mission for his son

HighPointe was the recipient of the Frances Owens Family Involvement Award in 2010 by Developmental Pathways. Pictured above are Kim Ziel (left), Ken Ziel (center back), Frances Owens (right), and Austin Ziel (center front).

By Elean Gersack with photo courtesy of Ken Ziel

Ken Ziel’s life-course changed directions when his son, Austin, was born in 1990 with multiple developmental disabilities. The businessman and missionary had spent years traveling the globe learning about cultures and watching communities come together in time of need. Faced with his own family need, Austin became his new mission.

Like any father, Ziel simply wanted the best for his son. So, rather than sit back and watch life happen to Austin, Ziel took the reins to seek out information, get involved, and find ways to inspire and support his only child.

In 2003, Ziel founded HighPointe Services. His first program was the Exceptional Kids Club, an outing-based program for developmentally disabled kids ages four to 14 that met at local churches. About a year later, Ziel took his technology background and launched National Care Connection ( The site offers families and caregivers a way to document long-term care records in a comprehensive and organized manner. This can be very important for families who know at some point they will not be around to care for their loved one.

Ziel notes that there is a void left for those disabled and out of the school system. “There is a huge regression after age 21,” said Ziel. Embracing the problem, he decided to create a gathering place, called HighPointe Center, where developmentally disabled young adults and adults could be empowered to do more and live life to the fullest.

HighPointe Center, a 5,000-square foot facility located in Centennial, opened last May. The center offers day enrichment programs, Friday night social clubs, expedition outings, and a vocational service program that helps individuals prepare to hold a job. In the coming months, HighPointe Academy will debut. This eighteen-month independent living program will help prepare individuals for living alone.

With state funding at a minimum and long waitlists, Ziel pushes forward with a state program for the elderly, blind, and disabled that pays $7 to $8 per hour with no waitlist. Unfortunately, providing quality care that reaches way beyond “watching” an individual costs much more. Ziel makes it work by supplementing with donations and counting on a great volunteer base and highly experienced and trained educators.

“We want to make a difference,” said Ziel. HighPointe’s vision is to provide services of the highest quality, inspiring people with disabilities and their families to dream and achieve as they pursue personal growth. Learn more at



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