Later this month, folks will gather to listen to jazz, bid on auction items and enjoy some food. "Jazz, Baby!" is a fundraiser for Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs.
The face of the event is Gracie Brown.
Her second birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and Gracie is all smiles.
Angela and Tim Brown adopted Gracie at birth and did not know her birth mother had been using drugs.
"She was about 12 hours old before she started going through withdrawals, and that's when things got rough," Angela said.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome was a challenge with constant crying and seizures. Now Gracie goes to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. She is sensitive to sounds and smells. She is a child with special needs.
"It's really hard to imagine the stress that goes into a family's life when they discover that their little one that has needs that go far beyond what you and I would anticipate," Don Thompson said.
Thompson is the Volunteer Executive Director of Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs.
"Everybody is a friend to Friends of Tennessee's Babies with special needs. We built in into the name and the name is so long you can't get it on a plaque. But it really captures the spirit of what we try to do," he said. "We are emissaries of encouragement and messengers of hope for families."
The non-profit gets referrals from Tennessee's Early Intervention System (TEIS) and then reaches out to families like the Browns. Some of the services offered are social.
"We've participated in the Christmas party and gone to the Smokies games and the zoo days and it's really good because you get to do those things with your kids and with other people who have the same type issues," Angela said.
The support programs include respite care, hospital collaboration, workshops, lending libraries, adaptive equipment and loaner hearing aids.
"They know the people to talk to and if they don't they are willing to ask questions and find out for you. If you don't know, call them and ask because they are a great resource of information and they've helped up tremendously," Angela said.
Now Gracie's cute smile on posters and the web is helping spread the word about the organization's big fundraiser - "Jazz, Baby!"
"We're honored that she was chosen to do this, and we want to help give back any way that we can because they have meant a lot to us and they have helped our family a lot over the last two years," Angela said.
The "Jazz, Baby!" fundraiser for Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs will be held at the Foundry on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
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