Leah's Dream Foundation holds Valentine's-themed event for kids
The local Leah's Dream Foundation provided what it hopes will be the first of many parties for kids with special needs and their families.
The foundation held the Valentine's-themed event on Feb. 10 at Kellogg Marsh Elementary.
The nonprofit organization founded in Tulalip was established in 2015 to raise funds for and to support local students who live with special needs.
At the recent Valentine's party kids made crafts, played bingo, ate and did other activities.
"This is our first event," said Deanna Sheldon. "We are doing it for all the special needs kids in the Marysville School District. Our future is trying to help do more events to have families involved and engaged and just have fun," she said.
Sheldon said she hopes to create a strong community for the kids in the Marysville School District who have special needs.
"Kids need a place to be themselves," she said. "Kids with autism lack the social skills, so this hopefully can bridge them out into the community," she said.
Many families from Kellogg Marsh Elementary came out to help for the event and Sheldon said the turnout was good.
"We've got quite a good amount of people coming through the doors so we're grateful we were able to get the word out," she said.
Local parent and Liberty Elementary Principal Gloria Henderson said her son was excited about the party for the entire week.
"It's good to see that they put this for all kids, especially special needs kids, because at times that can be pretty isolating," said Henderson.
Sheldon started the Leah's Dream Foundation in May 2015.
"My daughter, Leah was diagnosed at age 2 with autism, so we were kind of inspired by her because she's non-verbal and very impacted by autism," she said. Sheldon's niece also has autism, so she said she was motivated to improve resources for parents.
"The driving force behind it was being able to raise funds and support a community that really needs the support, because there's not a lot of activities for kids with special needs," she said.
The group's annual golf tournament is their main fundraiser and last year helped pay for communications devices the foundation donated to the Marysville School District.
"This year we decided we should put on events like this where families can come and their kids can do crafts and activities," said Sheldon.
"There's a huge group of kids who just need to come out and have fun," she said.
Sheldon hopes that the foundation will be able to continue to provide events for local parents and kids who have special needs.
"We want to do more programs like this and just get the community involved and create awareness," she said.
The organizations annual golf tournament and silent auction are scheduled for July 15 this year.
More information about the golf tournament and the Leah's Dream Foundation is available at their website at leahsdream.org.