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Every year, since 1954, the WHAS Crusade for Children has provided children with special needs with valuable resources via grants to organizations.
For the last 30 years, the LaRue County School district has applied for, and received either a full or partial grant to help middle and high school students with special needs. The district has received 28 grants totaling $384,023 from the Crusade. This year, and the past two years as well, they have received a $17,000 grant to help pay personnel to assist special needs students.
The first grant they received in 1984 for $6,396 was used to purchase five TRS (Tandy Radio Shack)-80 Model 4 computers. The largest grant LaRue’s schools have received, so far, was in 1998 when they were given a full grant of $30,779 for eight personal computers and equipment. Since 2006, the grants have gone toward salaries.
Camille Turner, director of special education for LaRue County Schools, said for the past few years, the money has been used to “bring in people with expertise to work with students who struggle and have disability needs to improve and build reading and math skills.”
Turner said the money received from the Crusade has been very beneficial to the school district and students alike.
“It has been a great help when we’ve been looking at the reading and math abilities of our students with disabilities… their (standardized test) scores reflect the improvement,” she said.
Not all of the organizations that apply for the grants are schools – although many are. The grant is open to all organizations that work with children with disabilities. The application process starts in January when the applications are due, then in March or April the organizations receive a notice that they have an appointment before the Crusade Advisory Panel, where they have to “defend the grant” by explaining what the money they are requesting will be used for and how it will impact the children. After the appointment, the organizations wait until they are notified that they received a full or partial grant.
Many organizations will not get all that they ask for, which Turner said is dependent upon how many applications they receive and how much money they have to divide amongst them.
But where does the money come from? The Crusade gets more than 50 percent of their money from local fire departments that hold roadblocks and other fundraisers, according to their website. This year for the 61st Crusade, LaRue County’s fire departments raised and donated $1,816 to the Crusade.
“When (people) give to WHAS Crusade, that money does find its way back to the children in the community… they may not realize how much of that does come back,” said Turner.