As we kick off Spectrum360’s 7th annual A Walk for a Lifetime, we are excited to share the stories of some of our favorite team fundraisers. Today we celebrate Marcel Redhead and her team, “The Redhead Bunch”.
Marcel’s son, Domenique, who was diagnosed with autism at age 4, attended Spectrum360 from 2015 to 2017. Despite having left the school in 2017 to return to public school, The Redhead Bunch returns each year to show their commitment and support to Spectrum360. Read Marcel’s story and consider contributing towards the walk or creating your own team!
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Name: Marcel Redhead
Team Name: The Redhead Bunch
Child’s Name: Domenique
Domenique, now 10 years old was diagnosed with autism at 4 ½. Although Domenique has little verbal communication, he is an active child who engages in various sports and classes, such as Taekwondo, Swimming at the local YMCA, music lessons (piano and drumming), and dance. Domenique is a described as a picky eater with a naturally gluten-free diet, except for sweets such as cookies and cakes. But Dom’s favorite food has to be ribs! As Marcel explains, Domenique will gladly finish an entire rack at Applebee’s all by himself. Domenique loves to travel, and does not consider their trips a vacation unless they go by plane.
Number of Years They’ve Participated in the Walk:
Three years so far…2016, 2017 and 2018, and looking forward to year 4 this May!
Why is the Walk is important to you?:
“As a special needs mom, I feel like I am part of a big family of parents all going through this together. Spectrum360 is such a special place and was a wonderful learning environment for Domenique. When Dom first attended Academy360 Lower School, (at the time it was TCI – The Children’s Institute) he was not fully potty trained. We tried everything but thought we would end up with a teenager running around in diapers. One of our greatest blessings from Spectrum360 was Dom learning to use the bathroom on his own. Spectrum360, and especially Dom’s behaviorist, were amazing at identifying his behaviors and helping him to modify them. During his time at Spectrum360, I was amazed at how Dom grew by leaps and bounds.
We walk to show our appreciation to Spectrum360 and the amazing staff who supported Domenique, including his teachers, speech therapists, and one-to-one aids. Unfortunately, challenges arose in our personal life resulting in us having to leave Spectrum360. Dom is now in public school, where we find that the services for students with special needs are rather insignificant compared to what is offered to and provided to neurotypical students, including extracurricular activities, and school concerts. In hindsight, we wish we could have worked out a way for him to stay at Spectrum360. We hope to be able to rejoin Spectrum360 in the future, but for now we will continue to support Spectrum360 by participating and fundraising for the walk.”
We walk because it cost more to educate a special needs child than a typical child,
We walk because our children need to be included and not excluded,
We walk because we put our children needs first and forget about our own
We walk because we are the voice for those without a voice,
And we walk so that our children can RUN!
Can you describe your team?
“Our team is made up of family and close friends. My mom is our oldest walker at 83 years young, and last year we had two tiny walkers, one who was just 2 years old and one who was barely 1!”
How does your team fund raise?
“I reach out to all of my contacts including family and friends (even those located internationally), both personally and through social media. I share information about the walk and our team page. Much of our support comes from my connections at work, and over the years my colleagues have begun to look forward to the event. They get excited to hear about Dom’s progress and are eager to contribute in order to benefit Dom and children like him.
What does your team like most about the walk?
“In our busy day-to-day lives, the walk is one time we can all get together and catch up while supporting a worthy cause. I even have friends from college who join in participating in the walk. The walk has become an annual event that brings all of us together. All of my family comes over from Brooklyn for the weekend and camps out in my living room. We look forward to planning for the walk and waking up early to prepare for it. My group has an angel walking with us now. My sister-in-law (Domenique’s aunt), Jacqueline Redhead, passed away in March of 2018. She was a big supporter and fan of the walk. We are looking forward to spending the day together as a team and as a family and walking in her memory and in honor of Domenique and Spectrum360.””
How does Dom enjoy the walk?
“Dom really enjoys the walk, but his favorite part has to be the attendance of the local fire department. As soon as we arrive he looks for the fire truck and gets so excited about it. Each year he has wanted to be a fireman for Halloween. Last year he wanted to be a fire dog like Paw Patrol!”
What is one thing you would tell others about our walk?
“The walk is such a fun, family-friendly day. We love the auction and raffle prizes. One year, in particular, we won about 5 baskets! I promote the raffles to everyone and they always get excited over the opportunity to win. Verona Park is absolutely beautiful and we enjoy the walk around the lake. We like to play music and dance while we walk, I believe this is what earned us “Best Team Spirit” in 2017.””
Anything else you would like to share?
“Our motto: ‘Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.’ ”