Jeff and Tracy Dice met in a business class while they were students at the University of South Dakota. Thirteen years later, they are back in Jeff’s hometown raising their young family.
After college, the Dices spent several years in Sioux Falls, where Tracy taught middle school math, and Jeff worked for Fiserv. In 2014, he took a position with SBS Cybersecurity, a company that provides businesses with information security consulting, auditing and education. The job allowed him to work from home, so when Tracy learned of a teaching position at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, it was the perfect opportunity to relocate.
The family of four includes 2½ year-old Delilah and 6-week-old Greg; Tracy is on maternity leave from her position teaching in the business department at DWU.
Although Jeff admits that as a high school student he wanted to get out of Mitchell, now his thinking has changed.
“Mitchell is a good small community to raise our family,” he said.
“And Dakota Wesleyan has been amazing,” said Tracy. “It’s a close-knit community and we love the family-friendly events, like basketball games.”
The Dices have also been pleased with services they can access for Delilah, who has Down Syndrome, through the Mitchell School District and community. They are happy to share their journey to build awareness for other families who face similar situations.
“There is so much fear and misinformation,” said Tracy “if you want to know more about Down Syndrome, just ask.”
She and Jeff both belong to groups for parents of children with Down Syndrome, and they find the interaction beneficial socially and as an information source.
Last summer, Delilah participated in hippotherapy, the practice of horseback riding as a therapeutic treatment, through Helping with Horsepower at Reclamation Ranch.
“If anyone had told me that my 2-year-old would be riding a horse, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Tracy. “But she loved it and it was so beneficial for her.”
“Sometimes people set their expectations too low or incite fear of people with Down Syndrome,” said Jeff. “But we expect that Delilah will do pretty much anything others can do; it will just take longer for her to gain the skills.”
Like many children her age, the social little girl is learning to talk, but she also communicates with sign language, so Tracy and Jeff have learned right along with her.
They’ve found that their parents have been good resources because Tracy’s mom works at Frederick Area School, and Jeff’s mom is a retired teacher, who lives in Mitchell.
“It’s been so nice to have Grandma right here in town,” said Jeff.
In addition to being DWU sports fans, the couple enjoys following show choir and entertaining friends at home, and Jeff is a member of the Lions Club.
“Mitchell is the right fit for us and our children for many reasons,” said Tracy. “We’re really happy to have ended up here.”