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Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs

Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs Quarterly
August 2021

Each quarter we'll highlight how we're working to enhance the potential of infants and young children with special needs by offering support to their families and the early intervention professionals who serve them...Because Babies Can't Wait!

Current Events

It is hard to believe that we are already half way through the 2021 year!  As the world is trying to get back to “normal”, we have been busy expanding programs, creating new family events, writing grants and increasing our donor base, and continuing to provide services to our families and babies with special needs.  There is a lot of comfort to families in knowing that they can depend upon programs like Friends of TN’s Babies with Special Needs to be there, even when times get tough.  In this issue, we want to highlight some of the heroes who have rallied to help make this organization possible, to keep it strong, and who faithfully work behind the scenes to build our network of Friends. 

NICU Baby Shower Project 

On April 20th, a panel of parent mentors who have all had children born prematurely with stays in the NICU, were able to make a “dream session idea” become a reality.  Rachel Henshaw, Ben and Rosalyn Vaughan, and Crystal Woolson all met together at RIVR Media, whose professional filming crew worked their magic to help us film a virtual NICU Baby shower for parents whose children are in the NICU.  These parent mentors were able to give some valuable tips to help current NICU families know how to become a vital part of their baby’s NICU team and to give them hope.  This resource will soon be made available to local area hospitals and on our website.  Thank you to the wonderful crew at RIVR Media for their generosity, time, and expertise in making this project a reality.   
Addie in NICU
Addie 9 yrs old
Harper and Adaline
Twins at 4 yrs old 
Karleigha in NICU
Karleigha at 3 years old

Hats for Preemies 

One of the many resources that FOT provides are goody bags to families who have babies born prematurely and are in the NICU.  These bags contain useful items to help care for the families and for their baby - things like hygiene items, a developmental guidebook about how to care for their premature baby, a notebook to take notes or to journal, a pair of fuzzy socks, a baby blanket, and much more.  We have several volunteers who have lovingly made a variety of tiny knitted and crocheted hats and hearts to keep the babies warm and comforted by the scent of their parents.  A BIG Thank You to ALL of our crafters. 
Judy Barnette
Sandra Koeshall
Concord/Farragut Sertoma and Greater Knoxville Sertoma are two Clubs who have faithfully supported FOT for over 30 years.  Concord/Farragut has sponsored the Lindsey Nelson Golf Tournament for 30+ years, which benefits FOT and other worthy organizations.  They have also provided volunteers, snacks, and lunch for our Parents Day Out program every year for 30+ years, a day that allows parents to have some free time for themselves while we care for their children for the day.  Greater Knoxville Sertoma Club has sponsored the Bill Williams Fishing Tournament for 21 years, in which proceeds benefit FOT.  They also sponsor the Celebrate Sound Walk (coming up on September 12th), which focuses on better hearing, and benefits FOT and other organizations connected to better hearing.  They have faithfully provided snacks and volunteers for our Zoo Day event for 30+ years – an event that is enjoyed by all and open to all of our families.  A BIG THANK YOU to these loyal supporters and faithful Friends. 
The 31st annual Lindsey Nelson Golf Tournament was August 3rd at the beautiful Dead Horse Lake Golf Course in Knoxville, TN.  Thank you to the Concord/Farragut Sertoma Club for your tireless work to make this event happen. Thank you to the 108 avid golfers and all of the sponsors for supporting our babies with special needs.  Because of all of you, our families will receive the much needed resources necessary to care for their baby.

Family Movie Night

Several families were able to enjoy a Family night together at the Movies!  Rio Revolution Church in Maryville opened their facility for our families to come enjoy the movie “Luca” together while eating pizza and chips!  Several door prizes were given away and everyone left happy for a nice night out together. 

Concord Sunday Sounds on the Porch

Concord Presbyterian, the oldest church in Knoxville, sponsored three live concerts this summer.  All proceeds went to benefit Friends of TN’s Babies with Special Needs.  Fun was had by all as people brought their lawn chairs and sat on the beautiful grounds while various musicians performed from the front porch.  Thank you to this congregation for sharing your passion for helping babies with special needs and sponsoring these events.

Upcoming Events

For more information –

A day at Ripley’s Aquarium is coming up on August 28th.  This is always an event that is enjoyed by both the young and the old!  Several local businesses and corporations have provided sponsorship for this event this year – Thank you, Sponsors!!!
  • Pilot Company
  • Workshop Tools 
  • Axle Logistics
  • East TN Children’s Hospital
  • The Ramsey Hotel
  • Parkway Animal Hospital
  • Gatlinburg Skylift Park
  • Pepsi
  • Palmetto Homes LLC
  • Eclipse Blinds
  • Performance Food Service
  • U Bank
  • Sevier County Electrical System
  • Hyde Eyecare
  • SmartBank
  • SideKick Therapy Partners
  • TVA Credit Union
  • J. Steve Morton, DDS 
The Celebrate Sound Walk is a nation-wide Sertoma event that promotes hearing health, better hearing and hearing loss prevention.  The Knoxville event is scheduled for September 12th at the UT Gardens from 2 – 5 pm. Anyone interested in participating can go to to register as a Walker or create or join a team.  Paid participants will receive a Celebrate Sound t-shirt.  Tennessee Hands and Voices, a parent support group for families with hearing loss, will be providing free fun activities, snow cones, and bottled water for children of all ages following the walk.  There will be exhibitors and door prizes!  When registering, we ask that you choose Friends of TN’s Babies to benefit from your registration.

Our annual Jazz Baby event will be in-person this year on September 30th at The Foundry at the World’s Fair Site.  It is a magical night filled with superb jazz music provided by an ensemble from the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres, a wine-pull, a virtual Silent Auction, an onsite Live Auction, and a program featuring Parent speakers.  This is our main fundraising event that funds the majority of our Programs and Services to our families for the year.  With these monies, we provide family assistance (developmental toys, high chairs, car seats, diapers, etc.), adaptive equipment (weighted vests/blankets, compression shirts, oral motor tools, etc.), travel expenses for out of town medical appointments, family events, a hearing aid loaner bank, and educational resources for parents and professionals.  We would like to thank all of our sponsors, contributors, and donors for being a part of our Friends team!  For information on how to register, please visit our website at


A core part of our support to babies and young children with special needs, their families, and the professionals who serve them relies on volunteers to make our programs and events a success. Are you interested in volunteering with Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs? Register today Because Babies Can't Wait!
Volunteer Today

Your Contributions in Action 

“My 10-month old daughter has hypotonia due to a chromosome deletion, so she has been working very hard to hold her head up and learn to sit up on her own.  Her PT recommended we get an Upseat, which is helpful with providing support while promoting good posture and helping to strengthen her muscles.  FOT helped us by purchasing the Upseat, which was delivered a week after we made the request!  Laurel loves being able to sit up and interact with us and her toys!  We are grateful for such an organization that helps provide needed resources right when our baby needs it!”

Friends Spotlight

Please meet Shirley Genander, our FOT Office Manager. Shirley is a native of New Jersey. Before moving to East Tennessee 8 years ago, she worked in Florida for 16 years in a sheriff’s office managing the volunteer program. Shirley just celebrated her 5-year anniversary with FOT. She has developed a passion and love for babies with special needs and has learned a lot about developmental toys and adaptive equipment - quite the expert on finding the best deals.
Every week, Shirley processes up to 30 requests for needed items and resources for families to help meet the needs of their child.  Most families receive their orders within 2 weeks from when they submit their request, keeping with our motto “Because Babies Can’t Wait”.  Thank you, Shirley, for being so skilled in making our office run smoothly and efficiently.

Legacy of Heroes

“I am strong when I am on your shoulders, You raise me up to more than I can be” [Josh Groban].  The legacy of Friends of TN’s Babies with Special Needs is rich with unsung heroes that have helped build a strong foundation one brick at a time.  Dedicated Moms, like Karen Hollingsworth, who researched, educated, encouraged, supported, and passionately loved her little boy, who started in the NICU due to prematurity and had to learn a different way to communicate because of deafness, to achieve a master’s degree.  Faithful gentle giants, like Angie McCamy and Betsey Bush, who were always willing to help in any way possible, make connections for networking, and give their hearts to support the babies.  Big-hearted supporters, like Sam McCamy, who not only gave financially, but gave of his time to participate in fundraising tournaments, helped move furniture to set up for Parent’s Day Out events, and inspired others to give to help the babies.  These are our unsung heroes whose legacy will live on through each child and family whose lives are touched through our organization. 

The Family Feedback Corner

"My 8 month old daughter, (she was born 2 months prematurely) has been struggling to sit up on her own, for quite some time. She was gifted a "sit-me-up chair/seat", with intentions of guiding her to not only use her core/tummy muscles, but to also strengthen them. This organization has been a tremendous blessing since day 1!!"
"They provided us with the app for our daughter which will help her communicate at home."
"They bought us a specialized feeding tube holder that wasn’t cheap, and they got it to us so quickly!"
"You got my daughter a toy that has buckles on it that helps her sit and focus.  I am very grateful for the help you provided. The toy that was bought was something I couldn't afford on my own and it has helped my daughter so much."
"FOT has provided our son with many things he has needed to help him progress in life!  Thank you guys for everything you do!"
"They have helped ease the financial burden of having to buy special things for our kiddos to succeed."
"FOT gave me a weighted blanket to help my son sleep.  I appreciate all their help for my two boys and their special needs."

Become a Friend

Many miracles are happening everyday with Friends of TN’s Babies with Special Needs and the many families we serve.  Please consider being a part of these miracles by becoming a monthly donor.  If you are interested in joining our circle of Friends, please contact our volunteer Executive Director, Don Thompson at 865-603-2581.
Donate Now
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