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Challenged Child and Friends thanks its supporters
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Ashley Ellis gives much of the credit for some of her daughter’s most basic life skills to therapy the little girl received at a Gainesville-based nonprofit.

“We saw that she wasn’t reaching her milestones,” Ellis said of her daughter, Bailey, at Tuesday’s Champions for Children breakfast at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville.

But after enrolling at Challenged Child and Friends Inc. and working with the organization’s occupational and speech therapists, among other staff, Ellis said Bailey is now crawling and “excelling in her speech.”

Cindy Wilson, director of development and marketing for Challenged Child and Friends, said stories like these are why the organization exists and the reason its “champions” need to be celebrated.

“This is what we are all about,” Wilson said. “The Champions for Children breakfast is a celebration of our corporate sponsors for 2012; it is a thank you to our current champions and a cultivation event for new supporters.”

Those in attendance included corporate sponsors and staff and board members of the organization.

Challenged Child and Friends prides itself on a “whole person” program, where children who experience developmental delays and disabilities participate in a full inclusion program with children who have typical development. The organization serves children from 6 weeks to 6 years old through fully integrated educational, therapeutic, nursing and family counseling services.

While the organization started at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, it has since outgrown several facilities and relocated to its current location off Murphy Boulevard to make room for the 180 children from 13 North Georgia counties it now serves.

According to Wilson, Challenged Child and Friends relies heavily on supporters in the community to help the organization continue its programs to area families.

“Fundraising is important to Challenged Child and Friends as tuition is only 45 percent of our revenue. Therefore, we must fund raise through special events, corporate sponsors and individual donors for additional revenue,” Wilson said. “This revenue is to fund our programs and provide financial assistance to our families with special-needs children.”

Although this is the first year Champions for Children has been offered, which gives corporate sponsors the option of donating through a package deal rather than contributing at different times to individual fundraising events, Wilson hopes the new effort will “engage new supporters and future champions.”

“An organization that is really unique to the area, and to the nation, takes a lot of hard work,” said Dave Earnest, executive director of Challenged Child and Friends. “It takes some very special people to get something like this going. For an organization like this to exist in a community this size says a lot about the community. Our sponsors are not just supporters but neighbors in the truest sense of the word.”

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