Yes, it is!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Egg Hunt For Special People

I did it.  I actually succeeded in organizing a community event.  I'm not a leader type of person and I often doubt myself.  Today was a success for the first annual Easter egg hunt for those with special needs.  This event was for anybody of any age who is otherwise unable (or uncomfortable) to participate in a typical egg hunt due to physical or developmental limitations. 

As most of my friends and readers know, my daughter has a mild case of cerebral palsy.  She is my inspiration for why I organized today's event.  Even though Jackie has a mild case of CP, there are some things that she still struggles with and events such as egg hunts is an example.  Usually, Jackie would come away with no eggs or maybe 1 or 2 eggs.  You can read HERE about how I came up with the idea for this special event.

When I first started to plan this event, I figured that I would probably have to finance most, if not all, of it.  The first person I asked was one of Tim's cousins who works for a very large company that also produces snack items.  I talked to him last summer about possibly obtaining coupons to purchase snacks at a discount.  Unfortunately, even after he called and talked to me again about this recently, nothing came to fruition.  However, I didn't let that get me down.  I was able to obtain the use of the church grounds (hoping the weather would be good).  Then a couple of the church staff members asked me to make a list of things that I would like to have donated and they would put it in the church bulletin.  I already felt blessed by that.  I have to admit that I started to get discouraged at first and believe that others really did not care about this cause because the donations were few. At first.  I received lots of plastic eggs and a few small baskets.  I still was not about to let that get me down because I was determined to make this event a success. So, I went shopping.  I filled a few hundred plastic eggs with candy.  I bought drinks, plates, napkins, forks.  I also bought stuff to fill baskets that I was putting together for prizes.

Speaking of baskets, I recently went to a Zumbathon at which there were also themed baskets being raffled off.  I bought some tickets and put mine in the baskets that I thought would be good giveaways for my Easter egg hunt.  At the end of the Zumbathon, I listened intently for my mine but it was never called.  I was just slightly disappointed but I got over very quickly knowing that the money went to a very good cause.  Well, the next day, I got a call from one of Jackie's teachers saying that she had my basket that I won.  I'm pretty sure my name was never called but I just saw it as a blessing to use for my event.

Last week, a friend from Florida sent a gift card for me to use toward the event.  It went to good use.  Thank you Fran! I bought the balloons, face paint, and a tray of Chick Fil A nuggets from Chick Fil A.  Which reminds me of another blessing.  Over a month ago, one of the area Chick Fil As posed a question on the Facebook page asking what one would do with 50 free CFA sandwiches.  I answered that I would use them for my Special Needs Easter egg hunt.  I won.  Thank you Chick Fil A at Greenmount Commons!

Another friend who bakes cakes and cupcakes offered to make cupcakes.  What a huge blessing.  Not only did she make over 50 cupcakes but she also made a beautiful layered cake.  Thank you Therese!
A few of my Zumba friends also contributed with donations.  Thank you Aida for all of your donations and your generous gifts to my children.  And thank you Crystal and Vickie for your donations.

During the last week, the donations really started to pour in.  Candy, stuffed animals, baskets for me to fill, and small trinket/toys.  My thanks to all of those who donated all those items.  Earlier this week, another special needs mom asked me what else I needed.  She provided snack packs and 2 of the 4 gift cards that I was planning to give as prizes.  Thank you Holly.  And thank you to the Sunday School class that collected $50 to purchase some of the remaining items that I still needed to buy; the bottle water, snacks, and the chocolate bunnies that I used for some of the baskets that I put together.  Thank you to the ladies who made those adorable bears.  Every child went home with one today.  Thank you to Mitchell and Madeline for manning the balloon, face paint, and activity table.

Last night was spent shopping for all the remaining items.  The weather this afternoon ended up being just perfect enough to keep the event outside.  I was so thankful considering the "winter" storm watch (or warning?) that we're under.  I know, it's already spring.  And this is the midwest.  I still find it unbelievable that we're under a "winter" storm warning.

As I started to set up for the event this afternoon, the volunteers started to come out from every angle.  We got things set up fairly quickly.  Soon after, the cars and vans started to flow into the parking lot.  I initially felt overwhelmed because I was afraid that I might not have enough food, drinks, or even prizes for everyone.  My goal was to make sure that every special needs person there went home with a prize.  It ended up that I didn't need to fear.  We had plenty.  The kids and adults alike seemed to really enjoy the juggler.  He was hilarious.  Thanks to the good weather, he was even able to juggle with fire and with knives.  I loved seeing the joy on everyone's faces.

Pretty soon, the egg hunt was underway.  Before it started, though, I encouraged everyone to help each other and to have fun gathering the eggs.  It brought such joy to me to see everyone being so respectful and helpful.  There was no trampling going on and that made me so happy.  I loved seeing every special person, no matter their age, enjoying picking up the eggs.  Once the egg hunt was over, those who picked up the gold, silver, bronze, and metallic blue eggs won the gift cards.  Then it was time to pick the names out of the basket for the winners of the baskets.  Then the remaining names in the basket got to choose another smaller prize.  Everyone went home with a prize!  And a bear.  And hopefully, good memories. So many people came up to me to thank me for organizing this event.  I felt so overwhelmed by all the encouragement and support by not only the parents of these special people but by my helpers, too.  Just a few weeks ago, I honestly did not think very many people would care about this cause.  And I was worried about failing.

I also had a couple of parents tell me how relaxed their special person was today.  These are children who do not tolerate being in a typical setting.  I really gave me joy to see these special children (and their parents) just be themselves and relax without fear of having others be unkind to them just because they are differently abled.  It still brings tears to my eyes just remembering the joy and the respect that everyone showed.
A couple of parents came over to hand me some money and insisted that I take it.  I did so reluctantly.  It ended up being around $15.  My plan is to start a non-profit with it.  I would like to use the non-profit for events such as today's and for fundraisers for our special needs community.  Taking care of children takes a huge financial toll on so many of us parents and it would be so nice for some of those parents to be able to receive beneficial equipment or services that they may not be able to afford for their child.

Before the event ended, we closed out with ice-cream cones (waffle cones) and cupcakes.  I feel so blessed that this event was truly a success and I am already excited about planning for next year.  I already know I won't have to worry about providing cups, plates, napkins, and utensils next year.  I was told today that this will be provided in the future by the church.  A big thanks goes out to Larry B. and Renee for helping me get some of the important things coordinated.

I know there are a lot more people that I need to thank but I just can't remember everyone right now. But please know, that I am so very appreciative to everyone who helped me to make this event a success.  I have a difficult time asking for help but this has been a great learning experience for me.  I feel blessed.

Next year's event is going to be so much better.  I have so many ideas swirling around my head already.  I'm already planning to include beepers inside some of the eggs next year.  Those will be used for the visually impaired.  For those who are wheel-chair bound or use a walker, we will have poles that will help them to pick up the eggs.  Just tonight, I got another great idea from another special needs mom blog.  Some may think it's crazy but I think it's an awesome idea.  Next year, we might include siblings but... they will have to wear black-out glasses to find their eggs so they can get an idea of what it's like for those who struggle with such events like egg hunts.  

One more thing.  I was so happy for my girl today.  Instead of coming away with just a couple or no eggs, she came away with a full basket.  Jackie had the biggest smile on her face.  I love her.

Okay, now on to my next venture which I already started tonight.  And that is a private Facebook group for caregivers of special people in the metro-east area.  Thankfully, I am not doing this venture by myself.  I immediately assigned a couple of other special needs moms to be co-administrators.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Wow. Very neat. Great idea!