The United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville serves adults and children of all ages who have conditions including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and spectrum disorders, among several others. Last May, the organization was awarded a grant from the Vector Wealth Strategies Community Impact Fund. At that time, Jay Dryden, managing partner, would have never guessed that his relationship with UCP would shift from donor to customer.
Jay’s son, Axl, was born one month early. As his doctor noticed that Axl was not developing as quickly as he should have been, he recommended that Jay look into UCP’s services. Ever since Axl’s assessment with UCP, they have sent a therapist to the Dryden’s home each week to help him with behavioral and physical therapy.
“UCP has been awesome, not only with Axl but with my wife Hilde and I,” Jay said. “When they began working with us, the improvements were almost instantly noticeable. I can see from one week to the next, he gets stronger.”
Jay said he believes a key part of life is paying it forward by helping those around you who do not have everything that you have.
“Vector may have given the money, but now I’m in the one in need for different reasons,” Jay said. “Vector had more money than we needed, and UCP needed more than they had; then, we had no idea how to get our son over a hurdle, and they had the knowledge to help him. When you find yourself on the flip side of needing help and being able to help each other, it’s a great feeling.”
UCP used Vector’s grant to purchase assistive technology equipment for children, which is used for adaptive toys.
“Adaptive toys are just like typical toys, but they are fit to meet a child’s specific needs,” Tracy Cieniewicz, development director of UCP, said. “For example, if a child wants a Tickle Me Elmo doll but doesn’t have the motor skills to actually tickle Elmo like other children, the toys can be adapted so that they could tickle Elmo by using their feet or something else.”
UCP has a library of these adaptive and sensory toys for children to use. With Vector’s grant, they were able to purchase over 50 toys. So far, they have presented about half of the toys to families at no charge.
“We’re just so appreciative of this grant,” Cieniewicz said. “The ability to have these toys ready to go for the families to use has been wonderful. It’s priceless to see the joy on a child’s face when they can finally make a toy light up, make sounds or move. It’s all because of the grant.”
To find out more about UCP Huntsville, visit www.ucphuntsville.org.