Santa’s Sleigh Fund
What: Fundraiser by Access for a Better Tomorrow, a nonprofit for children with disabilities
How to help: Send donations to ABT at 4689 Price Road, Gainesville
More info: www.a-bt.org
A Georgia nonprofit wants to give young people access to a better tomorrow.
The nonprofit organization Access to a Better Tomorrow is rounding out the end of its annual Santa’s Sleigh Fund and used some of the funds to buy a laptop for Eric Morales, sixth-grader at North Hall Middle School.
Morales suffered a brain injury and paralysis after a car accident in 2003. This Christmas, Access to a Better Tomorrow bought him a laptop with voice recognition software.
Justin Pressley of Gainesville, a member of the organization, said The Santa’s Sleigh Fund was created in 2012 by the Access to a Better Tomorrow’s board of directors to purchase of adapted toys and assistive devices for youths with disabilities at Christmas.
In 2012, the fund allowed the organization to purchase an Action Track Chair for Austin Parker, a young Boy Scout with muscular dystrophy who wanted to become an Eagle Scout.
To date, the fund has raised nearly $10,000 for children with disabilities.
The original goal for this year was to purchase new Strike Force power wheelchairs for the disabled athletes on the North Georgia Screamin’ Eagles power soccer team, Pressley said.
“These power wheelchairs cost $8,000-$10,000 each and are not covered by any insurance,” said Pressley, the founder of the Screamin’ Eagles. “Because we had not reached our goal, a secondary goal was decided upon, which was the laptop computer ... for young Eric Morales.”
The fund has raised slightly more than $2,000 this year. The organization is not giving up on the hope of purchasing Strike Force chairs for its players, and is seeking continued donations through the new year.
“We’ll need to raise about $40,000,” Pressley said. “We’re planning additional fundraisers, including a Texas Hold ’Em tournament and a benefit concert in the spring to assist with this, and for additional funding for our organization.”
Those interested in helping can go to www.a-bt.org or mail donations to ABT at 4689 Price Road, Gainesville.
Pressley said the group always needs volunteers for events, including a power soccer tournament and referee training clinic in January. Beginning next year, it will also have an open spot on its board.
Access to a Better Tomorrow was created on Martin Luther King’s birthday in 2011 to work toward his dream of freedom from and equality for the disabled, according to Pressley.
“Freedom for persons with disabilities means independent living free of an institution or nursing home,” he said. “We advocate for increasing home and community based services, more accessible and affordable housing, and increased employment opportunities.”
Members hope to change perceptions of people with disabilities by providing the community with positive images and sporting activities, including the Screamin’ Eagles.
For Morales, the organization hopes the new laptop will help him become more independent. It plans to advocate on his behalf with Hall County Schools to help him receive more special learning applications designed for children with his cognitive disabilities.