Raising Awareness For Children With Disabilities

The world might seem like it’s deteriorating into a writhing mess of devastation and disagreement, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. By many metrics, the world is a better place to live than ever before. Global poverty is down, life expectancy is up, education is up, and nearly half the world is poised to get connected to the world wide web — which until now had been more of an ironic phrase.

And a lot of awareness has been raised for groups who are in need. Especially children living with disabilities.

Wausau residents Sharon and LeRoy Dehnel have made it a point to raise money for these kids every year for the past 30 years. Quite a feat. You might be surprised how they do it! They collect deer hides from those who don’t use or want them, and then sell them to raise money for those kids. Some of the hides are manufactured into skin gloves for those kids who are less fortunate.

A founder of the fundraising organization, Bernard Stuttgen, said, “Right now there are about 200 clubs collecting deer hides. I do it because it helps the kids who need it most. Once you go there and get to know one of the kids personally, it’s so heartwarming. It’s just a good program and brings in money that might not come in otherwise.”

Believe it or not, the fundraisers have racked in over $1.2 million. 

Meanwhile, the YMCA has commenced a number of programs for those living with disabilities, including young children. The idea of the program is based on the idea that anyone can be active through activities like basketball, dance, or gymnastics in some way.

Gymnastics Director Jensen Sullivan said, “I’ve had the idea for a really long time, but I didn’t want to use it until I was full-time here. So once I had been here for a while and I got some Midland students to come in and help me, I decided to get the ball rolling and just get it going.”

And that’s an interesting idea in support of government entitlement programs. Some people have great ideas about how to help others, but simply can’t afford to implement them on their own or without the proper funding.

Still, it seems more of these programs are being implemented today than they were a decade or two ago.

Sullivan said, “Parents can sign their kids up through the entire session. So if they’re a little late, they can join anyways. We’re just going to kind of go with the flow, because you never know what kids are going to want to do with this type of class. But we’re going to be doing beams, bars, vaults, we’re going to let them use the trampoline, the foam pit, and we’ll set up an obstacle course.”