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EDITOR'S NOTE: “Columbus Champion” is an initiative to recognize and tell the stories of local individuals who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact on the Columbus community.

If you know someone in the Columbus community who has gone above and beyond to make a positive impact, nominate them as a Columbus Champion!

Written by: Aaron Tomich,
Published: Oct. 12, 2020

On a nice Autumn afternoon with crisp, cool air and fiery colors surrounding bike paths and country roads, one may be able to find Eric Butter.

The solitude of being an avid marathoner and cyclist provides the perfect time to himself – a sort of regathering and rejuvenation from his daily duties at the hospital. One may also catch him watching Black & Gold matches on the television; these two colors have come to mean the world to Eric in a special way.

As the current Chief of the Division of Psychology in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Psychology at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and Director of Nationwide Children's Hospital's Child Development Center, Dr. Eric Butter continually seeks the opposite of solitude each and every day.

He’ll visit with patients, normally younger and adolescent children with behavioral challenges and disorders such as those on the Autism spectrum, and their parents to “help them feel safe” along with developing trainings and treatments to best help those in need of it.

“I started, when I was an undergraduate student [at Grove City College near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], working at [free-standing non-profit] summer camps for kids with Autism and found I was pretty good at it,” said Dr. Butter. “It was natural for me to build relationships fast with kids who had Autism.”

Listening to Dr. Butter, one can notice the curiosity and excitement inside of him that holds a strong desire to learn the intricacies of the behavioral challenges Autism presents.

From the beginning of his interest in this field to his current point in his career, he has noticed ways “to make progress and fast wins” while recognizing the unique qualities of each individual he may help.

“For me, it has been really a wonderful journey to figure out how to help other people that people have not been able to help,” said Dr. Butter.

A particular longstanding focus of Dr. Butter’s has been a parent training program which was designed with the core concept of teaching parents how to help their children with Autism regulate emotions and manage behavior among other items when stressors become present throughout each day.

The limits children on the Autism spectrum face because of stressors and improper responses are immense, but Dr. Butter’s career has been focused on improving the lives of families and individuals alike.

“One of the things you have to focus on is how to help parents develop extraordinary skills to handle an extraordinary child,” said Dr. Butter. “So, parent training is our best tool in psychology to help parents do that, and one of the things I’ve done with my colleagues over the last 20 years is develop what has become the most effective parent trainings available.”

Dr. Butter helps lead one of the largest pediatric psychology groups in the United States, and continually strives to help ensure his staff is best set up to best serve the community and innovate care for those who need it. Notably, his mantra is, “Whatever we did yesterday, we can do tomorrow, better.”

It is hard to miss Dr. Butter’s joy in helping others and the selflessness that naturally blossoms from that profound joy, and he lives by his mantra and daily encourages his staff to share that same passion and selflessness.

When he’s not helping others at the hospital, Dr. Butter turns to his fandom and love for the Black & Gold. The Pittsburgh native surely loves the fact that his now home shares some similar colors with his roots.

In the late 2000’s, he was not very familiar at all with the sport of soccer, but would attend matches via tickets from colleagues that would appear in the hospital throughout each new season. He saw going to games and following the Crew as a way to better connect with his colleagues and the community as a whole.

That connection eventually became strong enough to evoke a “deeply emotional response” inside his soul when he heard the Crew were potentially leaving Columbus.

“For me, it got wrapped up into how I feel about this city, and when I moved to Columbus, I didn’t think I’d stay here,” said Dr. Butter. “I just watched this city grow up as I’ve grown up in my career… so I really believe in people getting the most they can out of Columbus and I just found [Crew fandom] a point of civic pride and felt there was no way this team should leave.”

Dr. Butter soon became a season ticket member, and he continues to improve on his growing knowledge of the game. He even attributes his expanding understanding to the Crew’s color analyst Jordan Angeli’s breakdowns as a way that he learns more about the sport.

Often during his moments of solitude while biking around town, Dr. Butter will make pit stops at the New Downtown Stadium construction site to check the progress. He also often reflects on the concept of lasting legacy in sports and is confident that the Crew is cementing itself as a strong club in every way.

“It’s been this team, this season that’s really helped me understand; when they call soccer the beautiful game, I didn’t understand what that meant,” said Dr. Butter. “I now appreciate it.”

If you know someone in the Columbus community who has gone above and beyond to make a positive impact, nominate them as a Columbus Champion!