8th Annual Beach Bash Party held for Olivia’s Gift

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --  More than 500 people came together and raised more than $50,000 at The Score in Grand Rapids to raise money and support for Olivia's Gift.

Olivia's Gift is a non-profit residential living facilities for adults living with severe disabilities. The organization was inspired by Olivia Henrickson, who at the age of three suffered from a near-fatal drowning accident. As their older daughter was preparing for college, her parents wanted to give Olivia something - a place she can live with her peers and be as independent as possible.

The organization now has two homes, both located on the south east side of Grand Rapids. Barb Vandegutche and Joanne Harrison both have children living in House 1 and were there when the doors first opened. "That was unbelievable and exciting, I can't believe it," Harrison says. It was six years ago that her and her husband brought their son David to Olivia's house and it was beyond what they were expecting. "My husband says one week I give it, and if I don't like it, he's coming home. He has been there six years, and my husband and I are ecstatic. I mean we get to go on a vacation, we couldn't do that before," she says. 

The parents all agree that when preparing to drop their children off at Olivia's Gift, it's like dropping your kids off at college - it's not. Deb Walker, also a parent says, "No way. Your kid can call you and say mom, I've got a fever, I don't feel good. This is, you are giving up everything." But it is a feeling that gives parents a positive sense of relief too. Walker says, "It's freedom for us, but it's also freedom for them."

 

 

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