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Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs

Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs Quarterly
December 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!

Christmas is a time of giving and when our thoughts turn to focusing on our blessings and those who make our lives richer.  Friends of TN’s Babies with Special Needs is forever grateful for the opportunities we are afforded to serve such wonderful families.  It never ceases to amaze us how incredibly generous and giving our network of Friends is – any time we ask, our Friends come through with gifts of time, support, and resources.  This edition is dedicated to express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks!  

Jazz Baby

Grant and Kandi McMahan
On September 30th, we were able to celebrate together at The Foundry with 300 of our Friends at our annual Jazz Baby fundraising event – it was a magical night.  Live music was provided by an ensemble from the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra.  Our faithful supporters and donors stepped up and out gave themselves, working together to help fund programs and services for our babies for 2022.  Thank you to our sponsors – Jim and Natalie Haslam, Axle Logistics, Clayton Homes, Formall, McCamy Construction, Pilot Company, Steve and Ann Bailey, 21st Mortgage, Dominion Group, Dover Signature Properties, UT Medical Center, East TN Children’s Hospital, Stowers Cat, Farragut ENT & Allergy, The McLaughlin Group, Shafer Insurance, Summit Medical Group, G&G Interiors, Choice Orthotics and Prosthetics, George and Carolyn McConnaughey, and Stanley’s Greenhouse.  Thank you to all of the businesses and individuals who donated to the Silent and Live Auctions and Wine Pull, and especially to those of you who participated in the evening – we are most grateful!   

Two special families whose lives have been touched through FOT came and shared their hearts.  Jade and Sandi Arnold shared their story about their daughter Novah and Ashley Harris shared about her son Asher – each family shared how they and their child have benefited from our events where they could network with other families and bond with their child, and with assistance in purchasing needed items, such as a special swing to help with sensory issues and sleeping. 
 Harris family and Tiffani Dixon (center)
Sandi and Jade Arnold
We also honored three special teenagers who were part of our program when they were babies and are overcoming great obstacles to pursue their life-long dreams of becoming a medical assistant, a forensic scientist, and a farmer.  Haylie, Tyler, and Brayden Brandt-Ogle recently received a diagnosis of Usher Syndrome, a condition that will result in deaf/blindness, but this diagnosis has not stopped them for a second.  They received the Bill Williams Young Hero awards – we are so proud of their accomplishments. 
Brayden, Tyler, Haylie, Susie McCamy, Robin Hamrick, Carol LaCava
We applaud Andrew and Angie Jedlicka – our Volunteers of the Year – for giving of their time and talents to help FOT produce top quality videos through RIVR Media Studios that provide financial education and help parents with babies in the NICU know how to become part of their child’s NICU care team.  Thank you for your many hours of work! 
Andrew and Angie Jedlicka receiving their award

We are so excited to announce the establishment of The Karen Hollingsworth Encouragement Conference for families in 2022.   A day when families will come away with a renewed sense of hope and with information to best help them to help their child with special needs. There will be stipends for child care and transportation. The Conference will begin in Knoxville with plans to expand even further to surrounding counties. Encouragement is defined as “The act of giving someone support, confidence, and hope” which embodies what Karen Hollingsworth’s life was all about. Many thanks to the Formall Company for their generous gift to make this opportunity possible for families of little ones with special needs!

For more information on how you can support this project, go to 

Family Events 

FOT has been blessed to be able to provide opportunities for families to enjoy outings with their children at no cost to them.  Because of generous donors and sponsors, about 250 families were able to join together at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg on August 28, 2021.  A big thank you to our sponsors –
  • Axle Logistics
  • East TN Children’s Hospital
  • Eclipse Blinds
  • Gatlinburg Skylift Park
  • Hyde Eyecare
  • J. Steve Morton, DDS 
  • Palmetto Homes LLC
  • Parkway Animal Hospital
  • Pepsi
  • Performance Food Service
  • Pilot Company
  • Sevier County Electrical System
  • SideKick Therapy Partners
  • SmartBank
  • TVA Credit Union
  • The Ramsey Hotel
  • U Bank
  • Workshop Tool
On October 19th, over 500 moms, dads, and children were able to enjoy a day at Deep Well Farms Pumpkin Patch in Lenoir City, open exclusively for our families.  This allowed the children to enjoy the animals, playground, hayride, and pumpkin patch at their own pace and families to network with other families.  It was a beautiful day! 
FOT Babies was graciously invited to join East TN Children’s Hospital again this year for the Rudolph’s Remix event at the Fantasy of Trees on November 28th.  The doors were open exclusively for families who have children with special needs.  Families were able to enjoy the decorations, get a picture with Santa, make crafts, decorate a cookie, ride the carousel, and just walk around in a sensory friendly and uncrowded space.  Several families commented that they would never be able to attend such an event without these accommodations because of the crowds, and that this is the only way they would ever be able to get a picture with Santa.   
On December 3rd, families came in their Christmas pajamas to enjoy a special viewing of the Polar Express movie.  Pizza and hot chocolate were enjoyed by all and we even had a special guest in a red suit who made the night magical.  Each child left with a gift and a Believe bell.  A special thank you to Rio Revolution in Maryville for their hospitality. 
The last event of the year took place on December 14th at Shadrack’s Christmas Light Show.  184 families were able to drive through the spectacular light show and enjoy a special time together. 

Upcoming Events

For more information –

The diagnosis of a disability can be financially and emotionally overwhelming to families, especially parents. After the diagnosis, it is common for families to have financial challenges. In 2022 Friends of Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs will offer a series of free virtual classes called “Financial Growth for my Family”.  Each month, families will find ideas to help them have control over their finances as they care for their child and prepare him or her for adulthood. 

This training series includes 11 video modules to be a resource for financial planning. We will discuss topics such as organization, spending, payment methods, credit, identity protection, and future planning for families. 

Families of young children with special needs who participate in this training will receive support from a certified financial planner and a notebook full of resources at no charge. The training series is made possible through a grant from Westfield Insurance. 


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 

A family with triplets was in much need of high chairs to help with meal time.  The family said, “FOT Babies was able to provide exactly what we needed and it has made such a difference in making meal times more relaxed and enjoyable.  Thank you FOT!!”. 
“Ruthie needed a new car seat that provides extra support.  FOT Babies jumped right in and we had a new seat within a week!  She loves it and feels like such a big girl!  Thank you FOT!” 

Friends Spotlight

We all know how busy the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season can be, but no one is busier than Santa!  Our very own Santa, Jim Dunn, is a gracious and kind man with a gentle spirit, and it shows in his interactions with the children.  Jim’s beautiful smile with his snowy white beard, well-coiffed mustache, and red suit now sits on many mantles with babies and children on his lap – from the Rudolph’s Remix to the Polar Express!  You can even see him on our website reading Christmas stories!  Thank you, Jim, for serving on the FOT Advisory Council and for making spirits bright!

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 and/or making a tax deductible end of the year contribution.  If you are interested in joining our circle of Friends, please contact our volunteer Executive Director, Don Thompson at 865-603-2581.
Donate Now
Copyright © 2021 Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs, All rights reserved.

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