The Ability Experience and Helping Hands Respite Care

Ability Experience bike riders lined up in front of Helping Hands for a reception line

On July 30th  The Ability Experience happened in East Lansing as 37 hot and sweaty young men converged on Helping Hands Respite Care for a special visit.  These men, all part of a national fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, competed to be selected to be part of what some might consider 50 plus days of torture.  They hoped to be chosen to be part of an amazing, life-changing journey, aptly called the Journey of Hope.  It is all part of the fraternity’s national charitable fund-raising organization The Ability Experience event where three teams of riders are assembled to participate in a cross-country fund-raising bike rides. There are three routes planned across country – a northern route, mid- of the country route, and the southern route. They all begin in major west coast cities and end in Washington DC.  Each man selected to participate is responsible for raising the funds to cover the cost of their participation in a national cross-country bike ride, to train in preparation for the ride, and to assist in fund-raising.

For the past three years, Helping Hands Respite Care has been one of the friendship visit stops of the Journey of Hope riders.  Friendship stops are planned for the riders so that they may meet and engage with people with disabilities served by a variety of organizations.  You see, the mission of The Ability Experience is to not only raise funds to be granted to nonprofits like Helping Hands, but also to create a generation of future leaders who will have a greater understanding, compassion, and connection with people with disabilities. Helping the riders understand that while the people they meet on their journey may have disabilities – they also have many abilities!

Hosting the Ability Experience riders has become an event that we look forward to each year.

The Ability Experience games include Giant  Jenga. Two riders and Bob Sr. and Jr. Matheson took a chance with the game.

The past two years we have taken the community picnic to the next level by planning fun, interactive games for the riders to participate in with some of our clients and family members.  This year our “Ability Games” included the popular water-balloon human bowling pins, giant jenga, an old-fashion hula-hoop competition, pool noodle javelin throwing, flying discs, and corn-hole bean bag toss.

Putting on this community picnic and games is an effort that is largely accomplished by the administrative team of Helping Hands Respite Care.  Leading the charge in planning, set-up, and even game creation is our leader and executive director, John Stauffer.  Also at work before, during and after were:  Office Administrator Janette Lauzon (plus her team of young men that came to help set-up and clean-up); Scheduler Rhonda Mliakoff who joined in the food prep and cooking duties along with Adult Day Services Nurse Jane Rogers; Adult In-Home Supervisor Jeff Nunham and his wife Karen focused on the grills, cooking, and keeping the food line supplied; Consultant Katie Donovan provided some shade as she stuffed her 20×10 foot tent in her little Chevy and convinced the East Lansing Rotary Club to lend us two other smaller tents; and ADS program Team Leader Jeff Gindlesberger showed up early to help with set-up and clean-up.

Volunteers for Ability Experience Community Picnic

Volunteers included Connie Tubbs who arrived early to help with food prep; Bill Bartilson once again came prepared to create music and public address system for us; and Board Member Jane Beaudoin stepped up to fill a critical need for the riders….the Beaudoins convinced their condo association to allow the riders to bunk at the community building and pool overnight. Once the guys arrived it was clear that there was not enough room so Jane and Gary Beaudoin opened their home for more of the riders.

We had clients join in the fun from our Adult Day Services program, Kate’s Memory Café regulars, our Child-In Home program, and Adult-In Home.  Some care-providers who were on-duty providing respite care made sure to come and join in along with their care partner.  Several Board Members and donors also arrived for the picnic and festivities.

While we put on this event with the skinniest of budgets, and tax our hard-working team to get it all done, we find it to be so richly rewarding in those little moments where we interact with the riders, or have a moment to enjoy the company of client/families/friends in a social setting. This is an event that pays dividends of the heart.  To all of those who lent a hand to make this event happen …we are so grateful!

 

 

The Ability Experience Visits Helping Hands Respite Care

Ability Experience Riders raising funds for Helping Hands Respite Care

Karl Ochs is a member of Pi Kappa Phi at Michigan State University and has been a volunteer for the last year at Helping Hands Respite Care’s Adult Day Center. This summer, he is riding across the country with other fraternity members from the west coast to Washington D.C. to raise money for people with disabilities through the fraternity’s nonprofit, The Ability Experience.

Helping Hands Hosts The Ability Experience with a Summer Picnic

They will be making a friendship visit at Helping Hands Respite Care’s Adult Day facility at 201 Hillside Court East Lansing on Sunday July 26th at approximately 12:30 pm. They will stop for food and to rest, with plans to be back on the road by 3:00 Come have a summer picnic with the Ability Experience team of bike riderspm. In honor of their fundraising ride, Helping Hands Respite Care will be having a picnic for all of our families. The Center will be open (at no charge to the participants and all other clients we serve) from 11:00AM to 3:00PM on Sunday, July 26th. Please come down and enjoy food, fun, and games. Meet the cyclists and wish them well as they continue on their journey to Washington D.C. For more information or to RSVP for this fun event please call the office at 517-372-6671.
Clients, family, staff, sponsors, and donors are all welcome. City dignitaries (Mayor Nathan Triplett and staff) will be invited. The East Lansing Farmers market will be in full swing right next door to our party; explore all the goodies – fresh fruits, vegetables and meats available.

Helping Hands Volunteer Karl Ochs is a rider on the Ability Experience to raise funds for Helping Hands Respite Care
Karl Ochs, Helping Hands Respite Care Volunteer

Remember these men are riding to raise funds to support families with disabilities; so, come out enjoy a picnic meal courtesy of Helping Hands Respite Care and show your support for the whole crew, and our local volunteer Karl Ochs.