When a mom sees a need, she's often the first one to jump in and make something happen. A mom in Parker County did that and it's bringing something good to special needs families.
Erica Howell founded The AUsome Allen Foundation. It hosts events to send children with special needs to summer camp.
"At this camp they get to do things we accidentally take for granted, such as but most certainly not limited to fishing, swimming, kayaking, gardening, cooking and more," Howell wrote in an email to NBC 5.
The inaugural event to help fund the trips to summer camp was a softball tournament back in February, right before the historic winter storm in North Texas. The event made history, too: 26 teams, several with special needs players, and 2,000 people cheering them on.
Erica is now busy planning a second softball tournament. It's set for July 24 and 25 at the Holland Lake Softball Fields in Weatherford. It's $300 per team with all the money raised used to send special needs kids to summer camp.
Here's why Erica does it: For her autistic son Allen who she describes as "absolutely awesome." She spells awesome with the capital A and U in support of Allen and others who have autism. Allen recently had some awesome moments when the coaches at Poolville High School let Allen play in every home baseball and basketball game.
"He had the opening pitch for home games," Erica wrote. "The kiddos at this school really deserve a hug. And their parents. They are doing amazing."
The mom remembers the day her son played his first game, and she wants others like Allen to experience that same joy.
"Coach came up to us and he shook our hand and said, your son is gonna be part of my team. He'll play. So he got his first game and when he got his first game, I looked at my husband, and he played. And I looked at the stands, the whole team and the other teams, everybody was on their feet cheering and my husband and I had tears rolling down our face 'cuz it's something that as a parent, you can't express that emotion. I looked at my husband and I said, not only do I need to feel this and other parents and other people need to feel this, but these amazing kids, these amazing people need to feel like this as well. And I wanna do that. I wanna be part of that. And my husband said, let's do it. And so The AUsome Allen Foundation was created," Erica said.
Word about Erica's effort is spreading and supporters have now donated wheelchairs for the foundation to give away at the tournament. Three are electric with a value of $25,000 each and one is manual in need of a little work.
People are invited to reach out to Erica to apply for the wheelchairs and head out to the tournament to try 'em.
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