Recently, a family came to me to share their catastrophe of acquiring guardianship for their loved one.

As I listened to their dilemma, I asked them how they were referred to the attorney. They responded, “In the phone book.”

The mom mentioned that she was waiting for her special-needs daughter to turn 18 so she could become employed as her caregiver.

I asked mom if she knew that in Missouri (and several other states), a mom cannot be employed to provide care for her child if she is the legal guardian. Mom immediately asked me what it would cost to remove her name as the guardian. We receive frequent similar phone calls from families.

How do we create a special needs trust?

What does the comprehensive waiver include for my child?

What occurs with the HIPP program when the adult moves onto Medicare?

Is there really a program that can pay me to be the caregiver for my father?

As a nonprofit and 501(c)3, these families and their phone calls are what have propelled us forward since 1998.

We are Company of Champions, a support and resource organization for those with disabilities, and their families.

We are proud to announce that after 21 years Company of Champions is holding a grand opening, at 1523 S.W. Missouri 7 in Blue Springs. It will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.

Company of Champions (originally Putting Families First) assists any-age special-needs individuals and their families and caregivers. Since 1998, Company of Champions has grown as more and more families seek us for connections, directions and services. The common bond between the special-needs families is they care for a family member with disabilities.

Many of the family members have developmental disabilities (autism, Down syndrome, CP. etc.), a traumatic brain injury, physical disabilities, or suffer from a newborn or age-related condition.

Because these individuals are living longer, their parents and caregivers are older and have many things in common.

They have fixed incomes and care for their loved one full time.

Second, their work is exhausting, day in and day out, advocating and meeting the person’s needs.

Third, the majority are looking for ongoing resources.

Some families have babies, and some have adults who require round-the-clock care.

In addition, during the past decade, many of the adults moved home after living in state facilities or nursing homes.

Some are nonverbal, physically, medically, or emotionally needy, and cannot live independently.

Due to tremendous growth, and need, Company of Champions has expanded to multiple supports and activities annually.

During 2018, Company of Champions served over 9,000 individuals with disabilities and their families.

These families have participated in Bingo Night, Petunia’s Baskets, Kelsey’s Retreat, the Champions’ Scholarship Fund, the Breakfast Connection, community events and respite care.

In addition, the new Company of Champions’ office will be one-stop disability service location for massage therapy, counseling, a hair stylist, and a special needs’ attorney.

On Friday, Dec. 13 the first 50 visitors can choose a free gift basket.

Guests can also purchase a $5 raffle ticket for a chance to win a 2017 KC Chiefs’ lithograph print football with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Kelsey’s famous cookie pans will be available for purchase, which benefit Champions.

Readers, drop in at 1523 S.W. Missouri 7. We look forward to seeing you!

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.