Posts tagged Festival Hall

Mmmm, Memorable


Shirt reads "This is faithfulness at its finest"

Shirt reads “This is faithfulness at its finest”

by Just Add Kids Founder
Paula Herrmann

I kinda don’t even feel like I have the right to write about this, having only been on the sidelines. But, it has been on my mind for the last 4 days. The impression it’s left…well, unforgettable.

                                                                                                                                  If you missed out on any of the snapshots, comments, chatter about it….my gosh, I’ll do my best, from the eyes and heart of this spectator who has been touched so deeply.  Read more….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’m talking about “A Night to Remember – Special Needs Prom” that was brought to life this past Sunday evening by the Great Lakes Church community and Racine community at large. My heart has grown especially soft and fond for the special needs community all spurred on by friendship that has started and grown over the last year. Oh, and if you’ve been a reader of JAK Chat, you may be familiar with the trio I am referring to. That being 16 year old Gavin who has autism: his service dog, Rusty; and his mom, Cindy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The event brought together businesses, organizations, and individuals that donated tuxedos, dresses, limos, primping, photos,

Gavin at tux fitting days prior to ANTR

Gavin at tux fitting days prior to ANTR

time…so much happened behind the scenes, yet for those of us who were spectators, it all came to life on the Red Carpet as each of the nearly 100 honored guests (special needs teens and young adults) were announced and escorted down the path with crowds cheering, cameras snapping, videos rolling, and tears streaming, into Racine’s Festival Hall (which also played host to the prior evening’s Post Prom party for area high schools) where dancing and activities ensued. Of course, most touching personally, was when the crowd was summoned to do a silent cheer for Gavin with hands up (pictured above). Too much noise for Gavin is over-stimulating.

Gavin with his escorts approach the Red Carpet

Gavin with his escorts approach the Red Carpet

I didn’t partake and observe anything that went on inside, but let’s let the pictures and Gavin’s recap below do the “talkin’ “…

Gavin and friend, Jenna

Gavin and friend, Jenna

And they danced....

And they danced….

...and danced!

…and danced!

                                                                                                                              Here’s what non-verbal Gavin had to say about the memorable event via Rapid Prompting Method, in conversation with his therapist Jackie and his mom.

Jackie and Gavin post prom dialog 5.2014Mom – What did you think of the Night to Remember prom?
Gavin – I had a great time.
Mom – How did you feel walking down the red carpet and everyone was doing the quiet waving for you?
Gavin – I loved it.
Mom – Did you like dancing with Jenna and Bella and all the other girls? You danced with way more then 10 girls.
Gavin – I felt cool. They were all so beautiful.
Mom- What was so appealing in the quiet room that you kept going back there after every dance?
Gavin – It was relaxing.
Jackie – Were you trying to find more girls to dance with?
Gavin – Yes, next year can you come Jackie?
Jackie – I have Sunday’s off and would love to help if I am invited.
Mom – What would you like to tell Great Lakes Church, Jeremy and Angela and all the other volunteers that made this prom so AWESOME!
Gavin – I had a great prom. Thank you for all you did for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even more touched, is Cindy, Gavin’s mom. Reflecting on the event, Cindy was up late last night and wrote out her thoughts in these words…

When “you” realize life is not all about “I and me” it’s about “us and we”,

that’s when together we can truly make a difference in this world.

~ Cindy Schultz (Autism Solution Pieces – Co Founder).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cindy writes on her Facebook wall…”This is how I felt the night of the Night to Remember Special Needs Prom (Great Lakes Church, Jeremy Moore, Angela Tappa and the many other volunteers that made this night so amazing for our kids ~ THANK YOU!!!!)”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And from a woman, a mom, a friend from the sidelines (that would be ME!)….Kudos to Great Lakes Church, hundreds of volunteers, countless donors/donations. You’ve made our community a better place! Well done!



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First Time Mom

The (Non)Prom Mom
Written by Just Add Kids Founder
Paula Herrmann

Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived.  Our firstborn is a senior in high school. She’s 18. My husband and I are close to completion of raising a child.
This past weekend we experienced our first prom. And if you know about Racine’s prom, it’s more of a big deal than most.
As a mom of 3 daughters, you can only imagine the firsts that we’ve experienced and how before each of those experiences, I’d imagine how perfect each of those firsts would be (first dance recital, first day of school, first communion, first date)  Yeah, many times, it was all about how each of the occasions made me feel…how does she look? Isn’t she adorable? I’m so proud.  This time ’round, was no exception, only experienced from a distance. Because this time…mom wasn’t invited.
Read More…
I don’t quite know when the “mom at an arm’s length” became her posture toward me. She was and still remains the only one of my 4 who would repeatedly call me when I’d go out with my girlfriends…“Mommy, when are you coming home?” “Please come home”, she’d plead with me over and over again. She couldn’t go to sleep until I was home. Not necessarily because she couldn’t live without me, but more it’s that she’s got O.C.D., and at about the age of 10.1 years old, it flaired up. Me being at home and tucking her in nightly was part of her “routine” (and mine, too). Though peeps with O.C.D. many times demonstrate very unique routines and have a difficult time if something does not play out as they plan, including mom not being home at bedtime (or the bedroom door having to be opened (normal), yet having to be about  6″ away from the wall.  Um, not so much normal). Heaven forbid the door touched the wall or was 2 inches off of it…no way!)
As expected, she’d grow out of it, and as most children mature, their dependency on mom lessens. That is evident early on from having to “walk” your baby with arms raised up holding on to your hands, until finally she lets go and can walk, ever so fast and wobbly, on her own. This one…well, she was a late walker…15 months! She is late, somewhat,  in her teen independence.  (notice I didn’t say defiance) But, if there is one thing that is evident, and because she tells me so, she just doesn’t like having her mom hang around. So “my” first prom, didn’t go as I had imagined, perhaps dreamed, it would be.  I was a first time prom mom, from a distance.  Oh yeah, that deserves a double sad face!
😦 😦
So here’s my first daughter’s prom, from the eyes of her mom. And if you knew the whole story, as to why I HAD to take a back seat, you’d understand. Ok, here goes: no shopping for dress with her; DID order/take care of/pay for  the flowers (because I asked her if she had done it. Nope!); no assisting her with getting ready the day of; no pre-prom pictures with her date, other kids and their parents; DID go to post-prom red carpet event, DID intend on momma-razzi-ing her and her date as they arrived, walked the red carpet, and entered Festival Hall. And as usual, got the worst snapshots in the world. Wouldn’t you know my iPhone died right as I was going to snap a picture of her and said date.
So here’s this first time prom mom’s memories, captured in pictures:
Gab's prom my vantage point 2013
My vantage point at Racine Country Club pre-prom pictures/dinner. I’m not one of the moms in that crowd. I am taking this shot from the street, as we zoom by in the car. Hope someone takes some good photos from me.
Gabby's prom the rebels are coming
The Rebels are coming! The Rebels are coming! ^ That blurriness, my friends, is their motorcade coming from their school, arriving at post prom festivities.
Gabby's prom 2013
Remember, before I was able to get that shutter to snap…SNAP! my stupid phone battery died. Where’s the real camera you ask? Well, not sure. Haven’t seen that since our last “first-time” event. My 10 year old’s first daddy & me dance. So fortunate to have captured this unknown young man and his infamous date, the blow up doll. Nice.
Well, and for those first-timers to be, you must know that the prom does NOT stop at 3am when it’s lights on, get out kids, go home time from Festival Hall. Oh no no no. A Sunday after must…an overnight trip to the Dells. Monday…Senior Skip Day. I am still trying to piece together (not because I’m nosey)..I just want to “experience” her experience.
I am the Prom Mom, Non. And I’m sticking to my story. What great memories! Well, you make what you can of it all.

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Talkin’ Turkey

It’s not about the STUFFing
by JAK guest blogger, Toby Mueller, of Raymond

Thanksgiving is a time for….well… be thankful. Part of being thankful is reflecting on the blessings that you enjoy in your life. Too often we tend to look at others who have more money or a better job or a faster car or a bigger house. But is that really what we should be thankful for?

Is life about that kind of STUFF? Read More…

This Thanksgiving, think about the non-STUFF stuff. What are you REALLY thankful for? Deep down in your heart, what do you value most? Things like family, friends, that sunrise you saw yesterday, the phone call from someone you haven’t spoken to for months or a hug from a dear friend.

The things you can’t buy should be a treasure in your life. Giving should have the highest priority in your life. That is where your thanks giving should be.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that we all need STUFF.  Like food. So I want to share with you two events that will be happening on Thanksgiving Day in Racine.

The first is the 4th annual Thanksgiving Day 5k (TD5k). It is a 5k (3.1 miles) walk or run for the whole family. Start time is 8:00 am at the North Beach Oasis. The run is a fund and food raising event for Harvest Food bank of Racine. Last year almost 500 lbs of canned food were donated.

I direct this event and I have tell you that Harvest Food bank is so grateful to the runners and walkers who donate food at the TD5k. You can guess that the need for food has increased and your donation does make a difference in Racine.

I would encourage you to come out and enjoy our beautiful lake front on Thanksgiving morning. Burn some calories and donate a can or a bag of canned food to Harvest Food bank. For more information, go to Cost is $13 per person or $45 for a family of four or more and a donation to Harvest Food Bank. Participants will get a fleece hat and a continental breakfast.

The other event is Dan and Ray Rendering Thanks meal at Festival Hal in Racine. The meal will be served from 10 am to 2 pm and is free to anyone. All they ask is that you register by calling 262-221-0466. More information about the meal can be found at The 2011 event fed 1300 people and they are expecting to feed close to 2000 in 2012.

There are two great events happening right here in Racine on Thanksgiving Day and two opportunities to give. So I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and run or walk at the TD5k and then volunteer or eat your Thanksgiving meal with someone you don’t know at Dan and Ray Rendering Thanks meal at Festival Hall.

Be Different everyone.

Toby Mueller is a married, Stay at Home Dad of two daughters and Blogger at A Different Spirit.

Editors note: Please check out the Just Add Kids CALENDAR page for more Thanksgiving/Turkey related family fun events such as these plus, Pleasant Prairie’s Run with the Turkeys 5K Walk-Run and Kenosha’s 34th Annual Mayor’s Turkey Day Run. Okay, run there now….

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Game ON

Game Off
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Racine, Carol Rogers

Do I have gym today?

I want to play basketball again!

Can we play Mr. Fox?

I love gym!

I forgot my gym shoes.

I didn’t know I had gym today.

Everyday when I go to work I hear comments similar to these. I’m a gym teacher.

Kids often rank gym class as one of their favorites, right up there with recess and nachos for lunch! Having fun is a huge bonus to my job, but it’s really about physically educating children. There are always obstacles in education and one obstacle that I face is my students have gym once every 3 days.  Not only is it not often enough (save that for another time),it also means that they do not have gym on the same day every week.  This 3-day rotation is directly related to the second obstacle: “Oops, I forgot my gym shoes”.  Whether it’s warm or cold, I rarely have a class where everyone is wearing tennis shoes. And this presents the third obstacle; students are not allowed to participate in gym class without tennis shoes.  Flip flops, clogs, and boots simply put, are unsafe for Phy Ed. Read More

Asking an elementary student to sit out gym class after gym class, is heart breaking for them, as well as me.  Most students simply forget their shoes, but a handful do not even own a pair.

I have sent notes home, made students sit out, commented on their report cards… nothing makes a difference for some.

Fifty-eight percent of Racine Unified students qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Racine is also one of the poorest districts in the state next to the Milwaukee School District. Perhaps you are one of those families who have had to put the gym shoe purchase on the back burner in order to put food on the front burner. Or you are not aware of what I see as no gym shoe dilemma.  That’s why I am asking for your help.

I am in need of gently used athletic shoes in kid sizes 12 to 3 and adult 5-7 to outfit my gym kids for class.  I want to get them off the sidelines and onto the courts and fields.  (And they wish to be there too!)  PLEASE HELP and let the KIDS PLAY!  Shoes collected will be used for Phy Ed class and additional pairs will be given to our school social workers and shared with other schools.

Please bring your shoes to the PARK & RECREATION EXPO  on Saturday, April 30th from 11am – 3pm at Humble Park,  2200 Blaine Ave, Racine, WI 53405 and again on Saturday, May 14th from 11am -3pm at the SUMMER ACTIVITIES FAIR, being held at Racine’s Festival Hall.  Please help and support our community’s kids with the“Game On: Help Them Play” gym shoe drive.


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