The Moore American

April 17, 2013

Couple helps special needs kids

By Jocelyn Pedersen
The Moore American

NOBLE — The Nathan Shinn foundation, based in Lexington, was born out of tragedy when founders Brittany and Brandon Shinn lost their first born child, Nathan, to a terrible injury caused by a nurse at a hospital.

With damages awarded by the court, the Shinns chose to turn tragedy into a way to help other families all over the state, including Noble, Norman and Moore.

Now, the Nathan Shinn Foundation reaches out to children with special needs, changing their lives in a positive way.

“Committed to making a positive impact on children with special needs, we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with life-long disabilities and to provide hope for their future,” according to the agency’s website.

Savanna Roberts, assistant director, said the foundation has done just that by helping Oklahoma children with autism, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, holoprosencephaly, hydrocephalus, Down’s syndrome, heart disease and more.

Roberts said applying for assistance through the small, private 501-(C)3 foundation is simple. Applications, are available through the website, by mail, email or fax.

Once applications and corresponding documentation including proof of residence, insurance denial and a physician’s statement of need are received, the application goes before the board of directors for review. Roberts said awards are made on a case-by-case basis.

The Nathan Shinn Foundation provided a classroom set of iPads to Summer Jeney, special education teacher at Fisher Elementary in Moore. Jeney teaches grades 3-6 and said the iPads have helped in many ways such as teaching daily living, fine motor and academic skills.

Jeney said her students take the iPads with them on adventure walks and take pictures of organisms, insects and things that remind them of spring. She’s also used them for working on handwriting, math, reading and language arts.

“I am so grateful to receive these iPads that the Nathan Shinn Foundation was able to provide for my kids,” Jeney said. “My students have been able to open up so much more. It’s a blessing. It’s sometimes hard to get the technology in the classroom that you need.”

Roberts said a lot of people are asking for iPads — and this year the foundation isn’t able to provide as many since the focus is on wheelchairs, car seats, bath chairs, strollers, lifts and other medical equipment.

“Funding is a little tighter this year. We haven’t brought in the funding we need,” Roberts said. “We still encourage people to apply as we might be able to help as funding becomes available.”

Melody Danley learned about the Nathan Shinn Foundation through the Cerebral Palsy Foundation — recently rebranded as Ability Connection.

She applied and the foundation gave Danley’s daughter “a very expensive piece of medical equipment we’ve been trying to get for a couple of years.”

Danley said after she submitted the paperwork, it was only a couple of weeks before she learned she was going to get the equipment and it arrived a week later.

“This piece of equipment helps my daughter stand upright and it helps her walk without assistance. It also is a transferring device. It was like a miracle piece of equipment,” Danley said. “This charity is wonderful. It is a blessing to our family. I had tried and tried and been denied. We were blessed by this foundation for giving us this piece of equipment for our daughter.”

Harrah resident Anne Hunt said she went to school with founder Brandon Shinn and had always been familiar with the story and the foundation, never thinking she’d ever have to use it.

Hunt said the foundation “very much provided our family with a blessing,” as her son, Ethan, now 10 years old, is fully recovered with vision in both eyes after needing eye treatment that insurance wouldn’t cover and was otherwise unattainable by her family.

Hunt said the foundation stayed current with her son’s treatment and progress and “they were very, very gracious to help out with that second round of treatments. I have watched them create miracles in people’s lives through their tragedy. They’re wonderful, wonderful people.”

The foundation relies on grants and donations and fundraising events to do its work. Upcoming events include Popcornopolis, a popcorn sale. Popcorn can be purchased while quantities last by calling the office at 735-3220.

The Nathan Shinn Foundation Benefit for Children with Special Needs will be from 7 to 11 p.m. May 10 at Charlie’s Sports and Grill, 145360 NE 20th St. in Choctaw.

The event touts two bands, auction items and a raffle. Local celebrity Matt Grice, a UFC (mixed martial arts) fighter, will sign autographs.

A Hot Wheel Sensation Car and Bike Run is set for June 8 at the Hilltop Hideaway in Noble, 1105 N. Main St.

Fundraising is important to the foundation and Roberts said she’s passionate about what she does.

“I love special needs children,” Roberts said. “I’m thankful to be a part of this.”