Guests donated more than $400,000 for Bellevue-based Kindering at their 12th annual Salute to Courage luncheon on Sept. 29.
Kindering, now in its 55th year, provides best-in-class therapies and special education for children with disabilities, delays, and other risk factors in King and Snohomish counties.
The funds will support inclusive preschool, special education, physical/occupational therapy, autism-specific programming and bilingual offerings, among many others.
It is estimated that 13 percent of children have developmental disabilities, one in nine are born prematurely, and one in 68 are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
Local basketball legend Lenny Wilkens, who is known for raising and reinvesting millions in accessible, affordable health care for children and families, was the keynote speaker.
Wilkens’ message of inspiration was bolstered by event host Lauren Silvernail, an alumni parent of Kindering’s Early Intervention programs, who shared a moving firsthand account of the obstacles overcome by her children with the help of Kindering.
Silvernail recounted receiving a bleak prognosis for her son’s developmental potential after he and his twin sister were born prematurely.
“We were told that he may never have any meaningful communication with us,” Silvernail said. “After more than a year and a half of more than 20 hours of therapy a week, we had the breakthrough we had been waiting for – [he] spoke! And he has literally not stopped speaking since.”
Kindering alumni parent Autumn Wells also shared her story. Her son was born prematurely as well, and her family learned of Kindering while still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“We still face challenges and work hard every day,” Wells said. “But he has come so far, and we rejoice in every milestone, big and small. I’m grateful to Kindering for being out in the community, meeting people where they are, and educating them.”
Longtime Kindering supporters Charlene and Frank Blethen (publisher and CEO of The Seattle Times) chaired the event, which was attended by a diverse mix of philanthropists, community leaders, elected officials and school district administrators all united around a common cause, to provide help to those who need it most.