Make Them Shine Gala 2016. Photo by Chris Shaffner.
Held on March 12 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus, the Make Them Shine Gala welcomed 500 guests that raised more than $375,000 for St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development. Funds support inclusive early education as well as intervention and treatment services for children with developmental challenges.
Chris Haar (1): Our son came to St. David’s when he was about 18 months old. He was born with a condition called cytomegalovirus infection (CMV) that can cause all kinds of developmental issues—the most common is hearing loss. With a hearing impairment, you start to lose the use of speech somewhat because you forget you have it. Our son is now 5, and there has been a drastic change. If he’s upset about something, he’ll have more of an emotional response than a physical one. He has more tools. Gina Haar (2): His speech therapist at St. David’s really pushed him to talk, and now he talks all of the time.
Jackie Fallenstein (3): My son has special needs and attended St. David’s for four years. The preschool program is such an inclusive and welcoming place. He’s now a kindergartner, and still needs extra help, but St. David’s was a big part of getting him ready. If I think of one word for St. David’s, I’d call it joyful. It’s a really happy place. My son still talks about it.
Jessica Healy (4): I have two daughters, ages 6 and 3, and both have attended preschool at St. David’s. My children do not have special needs, but aren’t phased by differences, especially with children who have disabilities. They just say, “Hey, what’s your name? Wanna play?” I think we all want to be accepted. Frankly, we all have things that are different about us.
Karen Packard (5): Our children were at St. David’s in the 1980s when the pre-school was just starting to mainstream some special needs children. John Packard (6): I remember one time I saw my son and his buddy, who was in a wheelchair. That was his friend, and he had to take him to class. I’m choking up now, but it was an unbelievable experience. My son became so much more well rounded. I know it changed our kids’ view of life.