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A Taste of Decadence - Village Community Services raises funds to support disabled adults
SMOKEY POINT Food, music, valuables up for bid, and inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles were all available at the Smokey Point Community Church Oct. 20, when Village Community Services kicked off their fourth-annual Taste of Decadence fundraiser.
Attendees took in dinner, dessert and performances by Voices of the Village, a band consisting mostly of several adults with disabilities who have benefited from the residential and vocational support services provided by VCS, before raising more than $12,000 through auctions on items ranging from golf clubs and throw rugs to a free meal with the evenings guest speaker, former University of Washington head football coach Jim Lambright.
Although Lambright is being inducted into the Husky Fever Hall of Fame Oct. 27, his family has endured hardships as well, not only when he was fired from UW in 1998, but also when his wifes son Brent died of a heart attack and her other two sons, Brad and Bart, were diagnosed with Niemann-Pick C disease, an inherited neurological disorder.
Lambright and his wife Lynn set up a foundation to finance research of the rare genetic disease, donating $100,000 to the UW School of Medicine, while Brad Mackie has gotten work in the Parks Department through VCS. Brad and Bart have both beaten the odds by living past the age of 40, since those diagnosed with Niemann-Pick C often die before the age of 20.
The Lambrights have also fought for their lives, since both Jim and Lynn have recovered from cancer, and for Jim Lambright all of these experiences have reminded him that you do what you can, with what youve been dealt, and you cant take it with you, so if youve got it to give, then you might as well give it away. Lambright illustrated the depth of his determination through a humorous anecdote about having to drag a 600-pound pet alpaca into a trailer 100 yards away, after it laid down and refused to stand up again.
It was just another challenge, and those challenges often arent complicated, Lambright said. When I decided to go to UW, I had two choices. I could take a football scholarship and endure the practices, or I could go to work to pay for school. It seemed like a simple conclusion.
While many of his peers were run off the team, for not being tough enough, Lambright stuck with it, convincing him that youre capable of succeeding, as long as you make your commitments important to you. Lambright asserted the importance of creating energy, through commitments to community, children and family, since there is no guarantee, when you wake up in the morning, that youll still be here by the end of the day, and they arent going to attach a trailer to your hearse for all of your stuff.
Lambright cited his recent move, to a house thats half the size of his previous home, as an example of why you should give away more than you take in, because weve got two garages full of stuff in boxes that we used to think was important, but our real blessings lie in the time we spend with people. We moved to be nearer to one of our sons and hes already paid us back a thousand-fold.
Lambright concluded by encouraging the audience to keep emptying your cup, because I guarantee that everyone in this room has a full cup, and refill it with whats better, since thats the only way youll ever grow.
Dawn Dufford followed Lambright by sharing her familys anecdotes of how her own disabled son, 47-year-old Chris, has inspired them to grow and learn. Chris has been a client of VCS for 31 years, and Dawn credited VCS with currently serving 33 other disabled adults through its residential support programs, along with 110 disabled adults through its vocational support.
Dufford read her friends and relatives written memories of Chris because the impact of a person with disabilities on their parents is immeasurable, but were not the only ones whose lives are affected by them. While Chris female cousin couldnt recall her first meeting with him, she reported always looking forward to spending holidays with him, in spite of his difficulties in communicating. Her thoughts were echoed by many of the other friends and family whom Dufford went on to quote, when she admitted that Chris had forced her to become more patient and understanding as an adult.
Dufford recounted how family friends had described themselves as amazed with Chris accomplishments, while Chris brother-in-law characterized him as a rallying point for the family, and a positive influence on his children, by showing them firsthand the wide range of people that exist in the world. Duffords son-in-law elaborated that Chris broke my assumptions regarding adults with disabilities, so much so that he makes a compelling advocate on behalf of those who face his challenges.
Chris half-sister claimed that he taught her how to see life through the eyes of others, while Dufford acknowledged that she, her husband and her brother were the only people who have known Chris since he was born, and the experience of watching him grow up and deal with his disabilities has helped them value people as they are.
Chris younger sister conceded that his disabilities had elevated her to the role of the older sibling, which proved especially trying during her teenage years, but she nonetheless praised Chris as a kind, gentle, pure-hearted individual, who has made our lives richer, before she thanked VCS for supporting him every day and helping him live the best life possible.
Matt Geraghty, a vocalist for Voices of the Village, likewise commended VCS for the employment and housing support services that theyve furnished him with during the past 13 years. The 47-year-old is working in assembly right now, but hed like to be hired as a dishwasher in a retirement home, or as a volunteer at a hospital, to assist the elderly and other members of our community, regardless of their age.
They help out with housing, job opportunities and financial stability, Geraghty said. They also give you moral support. Theyre a great help.