It's coming next week in Eastern Jackson County, Blue Springs to be exact.
We grew during our annual meetings at the Bass Pro Shops in Independence, where we had 50-100 attendees.
However, we are well over 400, sometimes 500, attendees and it is the most feel good, “I want to do this again,” activity I have ever participated in.
Through “Putting Families First,” a 16-year effort to strengthen families, this huge population of special needs families emerged.
As a result, these special people and their families were organized, titled Company of Champions, and after six years, have developed into a quarterly activity.
These are special needs persons, or individuals who have a family member with developmental disabilities, brain injury, an age-related condition, illness, or veteran-related disability.
Six short years ago, we saw a need and titled this support group Company of Champions . . . because that is what, and who, they are – champions!
These are champions who live every day, all day, all year-long and in some cases a lifetime, with disabilities. They have real disabilities.
Likewise, their families and caregivers are faithful, loving, attentive amazing individuals, who care for their special needs' family member.
We have learned that many of our Company of Champions are living longer, as well as their parents and caregivers who have aged while sacrificing for years to care for their loved ones. Many of these families have fixed incomes, sometimes scarce outside support and inadequate resources, with some in dire circumstances. Some are non verbal , physically and emotionally needy and cannot care for themselves or live independently.
Company of Champions was originally established as a quarterly meeting to connect children, adults, and their family members, providing companionship, support, and association.
However, during the past five years, we haven't just visited. We have hosted these fantastic, fun, fulfilling activities like Bingo Night. There is no cost. And we fill the building with thousands of prizes, food and volunteers.
Whether these individuals moved back into the community and their homes after decades of nursing home and habilitation center living, hospitalizations or group homes, or have been living at home with limited resources, they are beautiful, in need, and we are determined to serve them and their families through annual activities.
If you'd like to volunteer, please call us at 816-224-2000. This is such a rewarding evening. Please join us in serving these champions.
Otherwise, next week at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Blue Springs High School Commons, you might hear Knights of Columbus caller Ralph shout out the first bingo number. Let's talk excitement.
Dozens of tables will be filled with cakes, candy, apples, drinks, and thousands of prizes. Add to the list four tables, at the front of the room spilling over with drawing gifts, including blankets, clothing, shoes, toys, sheet sets, coats, and everything from nail polish to wooden shelves. The drawings are only for the special needs persons.
Again, there is no cost for anything, the food, the bingo or the drawings.
Spread the word and let us know if you want to join us as a volunteer on Wednesday, Nov. 6. You can email us at CompanyofChampions@yahoo.com.
Be careful out there and have a great Halloween!
Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.