Theresa Cobb, of Tyler, said she never heard of the organization Special Wish Child before she was invited to a gala Tuesday evening.
The “Special Wish Children Dining for Children” event was aimed at raising funds for the organization that helps East Texas families with special needs children get medical equipment and other needs met, and Ms. Cobb, 50, was an honored guest.
Her 10-year-old son Jack has Down syndrome and bilateral hearing loss. He is completely deaf in his right ear and was recently diagnosed with Perthes, a disease that hampers his mobility.
“It’s a progressive-type thing, and we need a stroller-type wheelchair because he’s having trouble walking …” Ms. Cobb said. “Jack has had 16 ear surgeries in Dallas, so going back and forth to Dallas and having to walk long distances is very difficult.”
Ms. Cobb said her son is her “grand prize” and the gift was a huge blessing.
“I’m not kidding, my head is spinning because I’m a single mom,” she said.
Brenda Davis, executive director for Special Wish Child, said Jack is one of at least 25 children that will receive assistance this year — the final number will depend on how much money is raised over the year.
The organization was formed 26 years ago and started by helping one family a year, she said. Last year, it was able to grant 25 wishes through a contribution from Samsung.
Samsung signed on again this year to donate $40,000 to the cause and was the sponsor of the inaugural gala Tuesday evening. The event featured a dinner, silent auction and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White telling tales from his days on the field.
Special Wish Child also holds a golf tournament each spring to raise funds.
Ms. Davis said the families are nominated for assistance through its website or by an assortment of medical professionals that work with the children. She said the cost of each need varies child by child, but are usually an expense not covered by insurance or Medicaid.
“We have a budget … and we try to grant as many wishes as possible within that budget,” Ms. Davis said. “We’ve never turned one down. We have been very fortunate to have the funding not to turn down a wish and we hope we can continue to do that.”
Tangela Johnson, 30, attended with her 4-year-old twins Kamaya and Kamora Goss. The twins were born at 23 weeks and have mild developmental delays, vision issues and cerebral palsy. The extent of each varies by child, but the pair spent their first 7 months in ICU, and underwent heart and brain surgeries.
Ms. Johnson and the baby’s father Chris Goss uprooted and moved to Dallas until the girls could come home.
The family was helped last year by Special Wish Child with the purchase of a bed for the twins, specialized highchairs and an assortment of educational programs.
“It was a blessing,” Ms. Johnson said. “It came right on time, especially that bed. It’s a huge bed because they like to sleep together — they were apart for so long.”
Ms. Johnson said the items were greatly needed and appreciated, but the community support was the most touching.
“It made me feel (like) a part of the community — I didn’t feel alone,” she said. “Sometimes when you have a child that has things going on with them you feel separated, so for them to come together to do something for me and my family — words really couldn’t even describe how grateful I was.”
Ms. Johnson said at the time she “cried until she couldn’t cry anymore.”
“I’m really grateful that this organization has been able to do what they do for families — bringing families together and helping the kids be the best that they can be,” she said. “The fact that someone cared basically blew me away.”