I remember my first Blarney Breakfast, it was the 34th Annual event. I arrived early and immediately discovered that the morning would be like none other. It was fun, loud, chaotic and a great way to start St. Patrick’s Day. People came to have a good time, enjoy a delicious breakfast and give so children with special needs could get vital services that help them reach their full potential. This year the local Wichita event celebrates 41 years. As time goes by, I’ve enjoyed many more Blarney experiences with dedicated Chi Epsilon Chapter of ESA volunteers, Irish dancers, bagpipers, endless pancakes, talented restaurant staff, committed business sponsors, media friends, and enough chaos to make you glad it only happens once a year.
My favorite part of the event over the years is when the Rainbows’ children and youth are recognized and directly benefit from the proceeds of the day. For many it’s an environment that they might normally avoid due to the many distractions, but on this day they brave the crowd, the noise and the endless activities to come front and center to be part of the celebration in their own way. Thanks to the work of many and the support of the community, the event makes a way for several Rainbows’ children to take home an item identified by their family and targeted case manager to assist in their care or quality of life.
Some children have received specialized equipment that helps them communicate with their families in a new way to avoid confusion or frustration. I’ve witnessed a child getting a piece of therapy equipment to use at home that helps improve muscle tone and allows her to participate in family activities. Another child had a need for a special food scale to accommodate a special diet. The list of items provided is varied and – thanks to the event’s continued success – long. It’s a privilege to talk to the families, to hear about their child and the difference Rainbows’ services make in their lives. Many have been with Rainbows since birth and have benefited from many services as they have grown.
The kids and their parents beam when they are honored. I remember the grandmother that handed out green stick-on mustaches to the boys and the teenager that told his mom he loved her the very first time he was able to use his new iPad for communicating his needs, wants and feelings. So mark your calendar for Thursday, March 17 to come bright and early at 6 a.m. and join me at Old Chicago East. There will be the usual entertainment hubbub and media fanfare along with the endearing privilege of helping children with special needs and their families through Rainbows. I hope to see you there. Purchase tickets today. Post by Michelle L. Eastman, Vice President of Marketing and Communications