Changing the World with Love

Changing the World with Love

Deidra Bowling-Meade

The Ashland Beacon

   “I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I would change the world for you,” read the banner for the I Believe Foundation at the Ashland Christmas Parade.  Wow, what a powerful statement! It resonated with me as the many volunteers and children with special needs marched through the Ashland streets all smiling and excited to pass out candy.   The children’s song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” came to mind seeing the banner.  God created each of us special with our own abilities and talents.  God has a purpose for each of us here on this Earth; one of those being to love one another.


   Cindy Kennard, who is the Treasurer for the I Believe Foundation, remarked, “ It was thrilling for these kids to be in the parade.  We had a very good group and several enjoyed the parade from inside the bus.  Our group is unique in the challenges these young people face.  Challenges such as mobility, anxiety, weather conditions and many others affect their ability to join in with normal activities.  The most precious opportunity was to see the smiles and excitement of those on the bus as they traveled the parade route.  We were very blessed to have the support of area school systems whose staff jump at the opportunity to share events with their students and our organization.”

   The love shown by the I Believe Foundation began when members of the community first got together to have Our Night to Shine Prom for those with disabilities.  That merged into the establishment of the I Believe Foundation, which was founded in January 2005. Kennard shared her passion for her work: “I joined because I know each person on this earth is special and loved.  In 1976, when I worked as awaitress, special needs kids were kept home or sent to a special school.  There was no integration, not even in church.  I kept a packet of drawings from a young man named Chuckie, who came up to me at Ponderosa and gave me drawings when his family ate there.  He just wanted a smile, a hello, how are you and to feel special!  This is why I jumped at the opportunity!”

   Karen Wurts is another volunteer who has been with the organization since the beginning.  Her daughter, Haylee Wurts, has muscular dystrophy and is in a wheelchair.  Wurts praised the I Believe Foundation, “No words can adequately describe what they have done for our family. We are blessed with people who have a true passion for kids and the community to give them the best.  My daughter has gained friendships through I Believe, and she is even excited about volunteering herself.  It’s a great program that has brought education and inclusion to our community.  There are such beautiful souls and hearts.  If the world could love like these kids love, it would be a better place.”   

   The past couple of years have been difficult as the organization missed so many in-person events. Before the pandemic, they had four events throughout the year free of charge.  The events included pizza and karaoke in the park, bowling and Noizy Joy (respite care for 5 hours in December), as well as the prom.  Due to widespread illness and the tender systems of the kids, I Believe won’t be having Noizy Joy this year.

   The prom is planned for May 13; however, it is pending until the facilities have been confirmed.  The Our Night to Shine Prom is opened to the Tri-State Area special needs high school students for an evening focused on them.  From the professional photography to dinner and dancing with other special details added in, these students and their families enjoy the evening free of charge.

   These events are made possible through fundraising events and donations.  The organization plans on having additional fundraisers in the future, such as a spaghetti dinner in March.  Donations are welcomed donations and can be mailed to: I Believe Foundation P. O. Box 826, Flatwoods, KY  41139.

   This holiday season is the best time to start giving to a well-deserving group.  The I Believe Foundation brings light and hope to our community.  Let’s help change the world by supporting them.

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