Tree of Hope campaign begins
CHAMPAIGN — Marc and Bridget Tribout moved to Urbana to live closer to family after learning their daughter, Riley, was born with developmental disabilities.
But they also found another source of help for Riley in the community through Developmental Services Center, Marc Tribout said.
"The services at DSC, they're great," said Tribout, who with his wife and daughter are serving as the "spokes-family" for DSC's annual Tree of Hope campaign kicking off today.
Developmental Services Center, based in Champaign, serves about 1,200 children and adults with developmental disabilities in Champaign, Piatt and Ford counties.
Tree of Hope, always launched at the start of the winter holiday season, is its largest fundraiser of the year.
DSC hopes to raise $135,000 through this year's campaign, $5,000 more than last year, said Janice McAteer, its director of development.
The Tribouts will be speaking throughout the community during the campaign about the services DSC provided for their daughter, Riley, who benefited from the agency's early intervention program, Marc Tribout said.
Riley spent the first month and a half of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit after she had breathing difficulties, feeding problems and seizures after birth. She was later diagnosed with a learning disability and a pair of muscle conditions — congenital myopathy, a congenital muscle disorder present at birth and congenital myasthenic syndrome, which is characterized by muscle weakness, her father said.
The Tribouts were living in Little Rock, Ark., when Riley was born, and after learning she had developmental disabilities, they did some research about possible services for her in Champaign-Urbana, where they have family, and found DSC, Mark Tribout said.
They decided to relocate to the community, where they'd have family support nearby, he said.
Tribout said his daughter can make sounds, but doesn't speak. She can't walk without assistance with a walker, and until a year ago, couldn't sit up alone and hold herself up.
"Everything that she does do is at a very slow pace," he said.
Riley has benefitted from DSC's early intervention program, which provided her with physical, occupational and speech therapies, Tribout said.
"We had a great experience," he said.
McAteer said last year's Tree of Hope campaign slightly exceeded its goal and brought in $131,901.
An early mailing has already gone out to major donors for this year's campaign and brought in $12,000, and appeals to others will go out Thanksgiving week, she said.
The agency's biggest need for funding is to fill in gaps where local and state funding don't fill all needs, McAteer said.
The state is currently three months behind paying DSC for services already provided, and owes back-payments of $1.1 million, she said.
DSC has waiting lists for all its programs other than early intervention for kids from birth to age 3, she said.
The agency strives to keep early intervention services available without a waiting list because it pays off, not only in developmental benefits to the child but in costs down the road, McAteer said.
Waiting lists continue to exist for the agency's residential program, developmental training day program and employment services, McAteer said.
The Tree of hope campaign will run through Jan. 31.