(Murfreesboro, TN) Local nonprofit Special Kids Therapy & Nursing Center is preparing for their 20 Year Celebration taking place this weekend on Saturday, August 18. They recently had a former patient and her mother come back to campus for a tour and sit down to reflect on the past.
Sarah is now 20 years old and is currently studying at MTSU majoring in organism biology and ecology with a minor in education "...which is the study of animals and how their environment affects them. I'm an animal lover. I want to teach and really enjoy it. I've had two semesters so far," shares Sarah.
Sarah was here in the "early years" of Special Kids and started in 1999. Sarah has always been outgoing and very friendly. She is musically-inclined and was never afraid, and still isn't, to get in front of a crowd to sing and play. "Sarah is a perfectionist when it comes to her music and school work as well and doesn't settle for sub-par," says her mother, Doris.
When she was younger and attended Special Kids, Stephanie Folkmann, development director, remembers how Sarah "...really ran the show amongst the other kids and if I had a tour come through, she would jump right in and lead it herself! She made my job really easy. Sarah was always so friendly and full of light." Chris Truelove, executive director, recalls a story of once riding with Sarah in an ambulance to the hospital and once he knew she was stable he told Sarah, "'Don't worry about your lunch, Sarah, I'll eat it for you when I get back to Special Kids,' and Sarah replied, 'oh no you won't! I'm going to eat it myself!' Sarah has always had perseverance and a funny sense of humor."
Sarah was born with a congenital heart defect, "she was born without the whole left side of her heart," shares Doris. "She is one of the few that has lived...she's got a lot in store, a lot of gifts." Sarah does have a list of other health concerns including, "she has four spleens, one kidney, an enlarged liver, they seem to keep find things the older she's gotten but Sarah keeps pushing through."
Doris reflects about starting Sarah at Special Kids so many years ago, "There was nowhere else in town that would take her because of her health issues and needs. She almost died so many times. Special Kids was a godsend, that's for sure. I knew she was taken care of at Special Kids and she just loved it here, which made it even easier for me."
While at Special Kids Sarah was in the nursing program but also received speech and feeding therapies.
"At Special Kids Sarah could be more 'her' and got the socialization she needed. Sarah was on a feeding tube when she first started but with a lot of hard work, she was off it by the time we left Special Kids. Sarah had to have life-saving surgery and had the Fontan procedure when she was first born, and many additional surgeries, so she never learned the swallowing and feeding skills most infants develop and learn because she was on a feeding tube immediately. I'm so proud of Sarah. Having health issues puts limits on the activities you can do but Sarah chooses to look at the positives and focuses on her music and schooling and doesn't let it get her down," states Doris.
When asked what they think about Special Kids celebrating 20 years in Murfreesboro Doris shares, "time flies...I just think of all the kids that have been helped. Every time I see a special needs child and parent struggling in the community, for example at Wal-Mart, my heart just goes out to them because parents of a special needs child often don't have their own life anymore, you almost feel like a robot, everything is done to make sure your child is okay but Special Kids gave my husband and I the opportunity to work and have some respite and that really helped. It helped Sarah greatly and us as a whole family. Sarah was getting the nursing care and therapies she needed and I could breathe for a few hours. When you're in the caring mode 24/7 it can really get to you. You can get frustrated, maybe even hateful, with those you love most but really you're just tired. Special Kids allowed me to have a little break and be a less-frustrated, better, patient mother. I will always be thankful for that."
Sarah and her mother, Doris, will be taking part in the Special Kids Celebration on Saturday that will be at Northside Baptist Church.
The Celebration is two-part:
From 9:00AM - 2:00PM at Northside Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN, their free Celebration will feature sensory-friendly games and family activities, live music, food vendors, a car show, petting zoo, motorcycle ride, and local shops the whole family will enjoy!
Special Kids is also continuing their Celebration into the evening with their 3rd annual Special Kids Concert at 7:00PM featuring Cody Carnes, Daniella Mason, and Sarah Reeves. Tickets are still available.
For all the details and for concert tickets, visit www.specialkidstn.com/20thcelebration
100% of funds raised benefits the children and families of Special Kids Therapy & Nursing Center because of the generous sponsors who have come along beside them.
The Presenting Sponsor for the Special Kids 20 Year Celebration and Special Kids Concert is Ole South Properties. Additional sponsors include Headlining Sponsor Nissan North America, Supporting Sponsors are Bill Taylor's Bushido School of Karate, Team Yates with Keller Williams Realty, Dr. Rachel E. Johnson and Chick-fil-A Murfreesboro, Underwriting Sponsors include Volunteer State Bank, H A Beasley & Company, PLLC, Tiffany Lane, HCA/TriStar Health, Redstone Federal Credit Union, TDK Construction, Asurion, VIP Murfreesboro, Bott Radio and KLove Radio, Contributing Sponsors are First Bank, Dr. and Mrs. Roy Thompson, Adam Tipton with Farm Bureau Insurance, US Storage Centers, Atmos Energy, Claiborne & Taylor Insurance, Blake Finney with Shelter Insurance and Waffle House