Image courtesy of Debbie Sahlin and the Lollipop Kids Foundation
The Lollipop Kids Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Debbie Sahlin after her son Ryan suffered a traumatic brain injury as an infant that left him severely disabled. Ryan’s traumatic brain injury had occurred from a freak accident when he was taken to a driving range with his father. According to the doctors, Ryan was not supposed to live, but he defied the odds that were stacked against him. Although Ryan suffers from severe motor issues, Debbie does not let that stop him from leading healthy and active life. From tragedy came a hope, and this is when Debbie decided to start up her own foundation for families going through similar situations, much like hers. Debbie believed that, “life would be forever changed”, but for the better.
Raising Ryan has been one of the best gifts- being a teacher. Because of Ryan, Debbie take can a step back when in difficult moments and choose a more hopeful approach. She calls this, “choosing hope over despair” and when choosing hope, this enables her to accept her circumstances and to grow stronger with each passing day.
She started this foundation to help other families who may be in the same circumstances as herself and face similar struggles. It is a way to avoid isolation and connect with other families as well as ease some of the financial burden they face with children with disabilities. The provide emotional support and a brief respite for the parents and caregivers. The Foundation was founded to help children with disabilities live their lives to fullest potential.
In the last four years, the Foundation has helped more than 700 families in Montgomery County. If a family cannot afford to get medical equipment or if the insurance company does not cover medical equipment, The Lollipop Kids Foundation, helps provide the equipment that is needed. So far they have sent out 300 pieces to many of the 700 families they assist. Not only does the Foundation send out the medical equipment, they also have a physical therapist go around and makes sure that the equipment fit the child and that it is being used properly.
Not only does the Foundation help families get what they need, they also provide recreation for children with disabilities. On Saturdays, the Foundation has a program called ARTbeat. This program is for children with Cerebral Palsy who cannot walk. The program comes in two parts-one part the children and the other part for the parents and caregivers. The children take an art class, while the parents work with a trainer learning how to strengthen their core and manage their weight before managing someone else’s weight. Siblings are welcome to join in on the art class as well. ARTbeat is just one of the many activities that the Lollipop Kids Foundation offers.
“We exist to combat social stigmas, ease financial burdens and provide a comfortable and fun environment for families and children with disabilities to connect, learn from and support one another.”
For more information visit the Lollipop Kids Foundation website at www.lollipopkidsfoundation.org
Pick up a copy of our (new and improved) resource guide for parents with children with special needs, Getting Everything Your Child with Special Needs Deserves. In it you will find the Lollipop Kids Foundation listed as one of our resources.
Image courtesy of Lollipop Kids Foundation and the "Smile Don't Stare" campaign