United Angels Foundation is a non-profit, parent-to-parent support group with the mission to support parents and families of children with special needs. As their website states, “@e do this through three main focuses: Interaction, Education, and Resources.” Some of these include newborn visits, parent lunches, online chat forums, youth and family activities, parent education seminars, and much more.
The organization was established in 2007 in Orem by parents Mark and Amber Leck when they discovered the lack of a special needs community after their daughter, Aubrey, was born with Down Syndrome. They were able to get guidance and support from a nurse at their hospital whose older daughter also has Down Syndrome. After realizing how much this connection with another special needs parent helped them in their journey, they decided other parents should have this same opportunity as well, and so United Angels was born.
United Angels helps to support special needs families through programs such as: ‘Angels Among Us’ (a support program to help parents when their child is diagnosed with special needs), ‘iPads 4 Angels’ (a technology grant program to equip special education classrooms in Utah with valuable technology aids), ‘Ride to New Heights’ (building confidence and independence for children with special needs by teaching them to cycle), ‘Walk With Angels’ (their largest event of the year, designed for advocacy and community awareness, as well as fundraising for the foundation), and other helpful agendas.
When asked about her thoughts on the foundation, Kassie Moen, a Lehi parent in the program, said, “One of the biggest things I love about the foundation is their understanding that educating the parent is the best way to help lift the child… I also love their members only page where we can ask questions or get recommendations for therapists and doctors from mothers and fathers who have been through similar situations. We also love the family events through the year…where the families get to enjoy an outing with their child with special needs. These activities are so low stress for me since I know I am with my “Angel Family” and they understand if my child has a meltdown at the top of the slide and refuses to go down or forgets to wait in line. These are events where my children can build friendships with other children who have siblings with special needs as well. You just walk away feeling good from any of these events.”
‘Walk With Angels’ (one of the foundation’s annual programs) was recently held at Margaret Wines Park in Lehi on June 3rd, with a very successful turnout. The walk is organized to provide an opportunity for family, friends, and members of the community to show their support for parents who have children with special needs. Participants often join a team rallied around a family with a special needs child or “Angel” to help raise funds and win prizes for the team.
The event had a host of activities, from face-painting to meeting sports team mascots to carnival games and more. The event’s success is due largely to the number of volunteers who help each year from many different organizations; they would not be able to run such an effective program without these volunteers.
Moen said, “I feel like [the foundation] has lifted me in every aspect of my life and continues to advocate for my son and all the families and individuals with special needs that it serves daily. United Angels Foundation is priceless to me – it is my “Angel Family”.”
If you’d like to get involved with the foundation, you can visit their website at http://www.unitedangels.org/get-involved/.