Christmas spirit could be heard loudly coming from the American Legion Thursday night Dec. 8 as joy which could not be contained permeated from the hearts of some 75 children and adults.
The annual Christmas party sponsored by Arc of Logan County and the local Ladies Auxiliary is a cooperative event provided each year for the developmentally disabled friends and families of Logan County. The party has been held for numerous years. Most of those involved now can’t recall when it began it’s been going on for so long.
The Ladies Auxiliary organizes the event. They select what food is served to what music is played. They even have the difficult task of scheduling a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. The Arc of Logan County plays an important roll in the party as well, from providing the funds to inviting the guests.
“The event was fabulous,” said Tom Thompson, a long-serving Arc member. “A good time was had by all. It was a lively evening of dance, song, gift giving, and food extraordinaire.”
Arc is an advocacy group for developmentally disabled individuals. The Arc has a rich history spanning 60 years and marked by accomplishment. Arc continues to carry out the mission and vision of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as their parents and siblings.
In 1950, a small group of parents and other concerned individuals came together to act as voices for change. At the time, little was known about the condition of intellectual disability (at the time referred to as ‘mental retardation’) or its causes. There were virtually no programs and activities in communities to assist in the development and care of children and adults with intellectual disability or to support families.
It was common at that time for doctors to tell parents that the best place for their child was in an institution. Emboldened by their collective desire to raise their children in the home and their stubborn refusal to accept that institutionalization was the only option, The Arc’s founders fought even harder.
Like every parent of any child, they wanted more for their children. They wanted their children to lead fulfilling lives out in the community and not shuttered away in dark institutions. It was in that spirit that The Arc was born.
Logan County’s Arc started similar to the national levels with a woman named Faye Clark, who wanted the best for her son David who was born in 1952 and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. For Faye the world was void of help for her son, for support for others like him, and thus the Arc of Logan County was born.
Clark, with the help of others, established Arc of Logan County in the early 1970s after searching for things to help her son fulfill his life.
“I had heard about the state Arc and from there I began talking to different ones in the community with the same needs,” said Clark. Claire O’brian was very instrumental as well in getting Arc off the ground here. After talking to some teachers, she helped me and from that we have had many wonderful things.”
Clark says she really gets teary eyed when she thinks about how it was back in the early days and how there was nothing for the disabled.
“There were so many like David in our community, but they weren’t always known,” Clark said adding once they got organized, many other parents worked to bring about change. “I am so thankful we now have a workshop, group home, and special church services. It does my heart good to know I was blessed to be a part of it. It is amazing when I look back on it now how God has worked through all of us to see these things through. David was a great blessing as are all God’s children.”
Thompson became involved in Arc while teaching special education years ago. He was approached by Clark about joining in the 1970s and has been involved ever since.
“I’ve been a member since the mid 1970s when Faye told me about the organization,” said Thompson. “It meant and means quite a bit to me because when I was teaching it allowed me to have my class participate in a lot of the out-of-class activities. It is truly a great organization. Arc provides parents as well as students someone they can talk to about legislation, medical questions, and the many resources that are available.”
Donna White, former president of the Ladies Auxiliary in Logan County, says this annual Christmas event is something her group looks forward to each and every year. Although it takes a lot of organization, it is very well worth it, said White.
“It’s just a wonderful event to see the children so happy and to see how excited they are to have a Christmas party,” White said.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.