Madeline and Aaron Spring, along with their children—Micah, 12, Charlotte, 11, Amara, 9, and Conrad, 8—have called Wabash home since 2008. Both Madeline and Aaron grew up in Ohio—Madeline in a small town and Aaron in the capital city of Columbus. Aaron is an accountant, and Madeline runs her own business, Undaunted Leadership, Coaching & Wholeness.
Since moving to Wabash shortly after they married, they have sunk deep roots in the community. The Springs say that while Wabash might be surrounded by cornfields, the town has everything their family needs.
Input Fort Wayne sat down with Madeline and Aaron to find out what it’s like to raise a family in Wabash.
IFW:What made you decide to call Wabash home?
Madeline Spring: We’ve lived here for 15 years. After we got married, we moved out here to work for Josiah White’s organization. We worked there the first couple of years, right out of college, and during the first couple of years of marriage. Why did we stay in Wabash? We were both done working at Josiah White’s when I was getting ready to have our first child, so we were deciding whether to go back home to Ohio and live near family, but we just loved Wabash! We wanted to stay. Between the community in town and the community of our church, Wabash Friends Church, we just felt like it was a great place to raise kids, so we wanted to stick around.
IFW:What are some of your favorite things about Wabash?
MS: I love the size of the town, honestly. I’m from Windham, Ohio, a tiny town with a couple of stoplights, so Wabash is bigger for me. Yet, my husband is from Columbus, Ohio, so it’s smaller for him. We’ve always lived right in town, so everything is walkable, and there are a lot of events in the community all the time. There’s the Honeywell Center downtown, the library, and the YMCA, and there are all kinds of outdoor parks. I was a stay-at-home mom for eight years, and we would walk all the time to all the different community events, including First Fridays. There’s now a beautiful riverwalk—you can even take a bike on it to the next town over and kayak down the river. We enjoy the outdoor activities and community events that Wabash offers.
Aaron Spring: For me, Columbus, Ohio, where I grew up, just seemed very busy and fast-paced. Wabash seems slower-paced and more homey and comfortable.
MS: We enjoy the rhythm of our life, too. We are family-oriented, so living here has been nice. Throughout the years, Aaron has been able to come home for lunch to eat with me and the kids, and it takes him only five minutes to get to work.
IFW: How has living in Wabash influenced your careers?
MS: It’s only recently that I’ve gotten more clients from Wabash. [Madeline is an entrepreneur who runs her own individual and group coaching business.] My business is more national—I do a lot of online training and coaching, and I do monthly leadership training where people will fly in from all over, so it really wouldn’t matter where I am. In that sense, it’s sweet that I can be in a place that is really family-oriented and small. And you can’t beat the cost of living—I think we bought our house for like $86,000! The cost of living is just so inexpensive, and you can do a lot more with your money.
AS: I work for Dawes & Pugh CPAs, a small accounting firm here, and the reputation of who I work for bodes well. Our clientele includes a lot of farmers and that sort of thing. With technology, we can have clients pretty much anywhere, which is nice. We have Wabash as our hub, but we can do business anywhere.
IFW: How do your kids like living in Wabash?
MS: They’ve been to a lot of the things that are walkable for them. They’re able to take initiative, have agency, and walk to the parks or walk to the library. The YMCA is right downtown, and there are a couple of parks down there. Micah loves walking to Wabash City Park, which has a creek. He’s an outdoor kid, so he loves to find all the critters in the creek and stuff like that, so that’s great for him. Our girls are a little more sporty-adventurous. There’s a skate park downtown, and we’re right across the street from a church that has a big parking lot as well, so they’re always rollerblading around town and riding bikes and skateboarding.
IFW: You’ve mentioned the low cost of living in Wabash. Can you expand on that?
AS: At the Honeywell Center, tickets are pretty inexpensive, and decent names often come through while on their way somewhere else. It’s nice being able to see some of those performances.
MS: Even things like gas prices—Aaron could ride his bike to work if he wanted to because we don’t live far away.
There are shops to go to in our cute and walkable downtown area, plus fun places to eat. We save money by not having to travel somewhere else to eat and shop.
Speaking of small businesses, I would be remiss to not mention Christine Flohr, the executive director of Visit Wabash County. She is phenomenal, she loves her job, and she does such an amazing job for all the small businesses in town. As a business owner, having that opportunity with someone who is so invested in creating opportunities for businesses and for families to connect and enjoy is wonderful.
IFW: Talk about, in your experience, the educational opportunities in Wabash.
MS: We’ve got great schools. Our public school system is pretty small but has all kinds of opportunities to take classes for college credits. Our three younger kids are all in a dual language immersion program, so they have Spanish half the day, starting in pre–K. They have Spanish half the day and English half the day. Just having those kinds of opportunities offered in such a small town is incredible. To have that opportunity has been phenomenal.
IFW: What local outdoor recreation activities do you enjoy?
MS: There are a couple of reservoirs close by—Mississinewa and Salamonie—where people can hike, camp, and kayak, and of course, there is the Wabash River. The Wabash River Trail is gorgeous, and it’s flat so it’s easy for the kids to bike. It’s beautiful to walk or to run. Wabash has many parks, and there’s an inclusive playground that accommodates those with special needs. The Wabash City Park is beautiful, large, and hilly, and it has a disc golf course, playgrounds, trails, and a little waterfall.
AS: The Dam to Dam also comes through town.
MS: Yeah, the Dam to Dam comes through—we usually try to do that as a family. It’s a 100-mile race from one dam to another and back, but it’s divided into smaller increments. It’s a massive event. Our whole family usually does at least the 15-mile bike ride for that.
IFW: What other local leisure activities do you enjoy?
MS: The Honeywell Center is wonderful for not only shows but there are also dance recitals and things for school. We go there a lot. There’s also a roller rink in the basement of the Honeywell that you can rent out for parties and that kind of thing. The historic Eagles Theatre has been totally renovated. There are movies shown there, and they have different events there as well.
IFW: What would you tell a family that is considering making a move to Wabash?
MS: I hope they come! Wabash is my favorite place. People are so wonderful. It’s easy to feel connected and part of the community. I think we’re probably a great family to interview because we’re not originally from here. We were transplants, and we just chose to stay because we love the small-town feel, how nice everyone is, and the sense of community. Wabash is a beautiful little gem. It’s in the middle of cornfields, but it’s got everything that we need.
Wabash is the focus of our Partner City series underwritten by Visit Wabash County. This series will capture the story of talent, creativity, investment, innovation, and emerging assets shaping the future of Wabash County, about an hour Southwest of Fort Wayne.