The Special Abilities of North Texas (SANT) non-profit organization is celebrating its 20-year anniversary as one of the few organizations in the area that supports adults, age 16 and older, with special needs and challenges.
The upcoming second Annual 5K Color Run/1K Fun Walk– being held at North Lakes Park in Denton on Saturday, Feb. 22—is both to celebrate the milestone anniversary, as well as raise funds for its continued operation.
Launched in 1993 as Adult Day Stay in Denton– later adding a location in Corinth– the renamed non-profit is now based in Lewisville. It serves those with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, among a variety of special needs.
The vision of Special Abilities President, CEO and founder Troy Greisen continues today. The current facility serves a daily average of 40-50 clients from across the DFW area.
“Our mission is to provide the highest quality of care, training and support to adults with special needs, giving them opportunities to succeed in their lives,” Greisen said. “They can accomplish anything we can; they just need extra time and support.”
The trained staff of professionals hosts programs focusing on five key areas: vocational training; academics/continuing education; health/nutrition/fitness; community inclusion/social development; and home and independent living skills.
“We’re driven a lot by the fact that Texas ranks 49th of 50 states in terms of resources and programs for people with developmental disabilities,” said Greisen. “It’s a sad statistic and a lack of support for individuals who typically wait 10-12 years on a list for any kind of help.”
To that end, Special Abilities makes substantial efforts to involve their clients with the surrounding community to demonstrate their clients’ capabilities.
“Very simply, in very small ways, we believe we’re changing lives,” said Greisen. “Whether it’s watching a young man in a wheelchair operate his own chair or watching a woman shoot a basketball, seeing somebody enjoy and be accepted in the community, being social and making friends is very fulfilling. But we also have a great need to reach out to many more of these individuals who often have nowhere else to go.”
The clients typically tour local businesses, undergo vocational training with educational institutions like the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, and hold Special Olympics training and competitions. They also visit museums, zoos, sporting events and cultural events.
“We put a lot of emphasis on community inclusion and basically try to drive wheels off our bus to attend events and engage with the people,” said Greisen. “Many of these individuals are capable of contributing to the community.”
Most of Special Abilities of North Texas’ students and clients have a modicum of healthcare support, but Greisen said that is typically based on a five-hour timeframe, whereas the daily agenda at Special Abilities runs 10-hours.
“That’s where we rely on the community to seek funds and support,” Greisen said. “We also love people to engage with us and there’s a daily need for volunteers at our inclusion events.”
The upcoming 5K Color Run/1K Fun Walk is an opportunity for the public to support the work of Special Abilities and the clients it serves.
For more information on participating or to inquire about volunteering, visit: www.specialabilities.net.