By Chelsea Bannach
Published: Nov. 2, 2016,
For Lizzie Knudsen and other families in the area, the Spokane-based organization Elevations: A Children’s Therapy Resource Foundation has been life-changing.
Knudsen’s daughter, Theodora, has special needs requiring therapy. She has been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified and selective mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder.
“It’s incredibly challenging,” Knudsen said. “She would only talk in the comfort of her own home when only her family was around.”
But Knudsen’s family has Medicaid, and she was struggling to find a behavioral therapist in the area who would accept it. Many just took cash or private insurance.
Knudsen, who works part time at her daughters’ school, and her husband, who is in graduate school, couldn’t pay out of pocket, so Elevations awarded Theodora, now 7, a grant in 2015. Knudsen’s other daughter, Mable, 9, also has special needs and is a grant applicant.
The grant Theodora received set the course for drastic improvements and hope for a brighter future than they once thought possible.
“Slowly over the course of the year, Theodora has been just opening up and talking to people,” Knudsen said.
Elevations got its start when a group of therapists and a parent saw financial and insurance limitations restricting families’ access to needed therapies and therapeutic devices for motor, language, cognitive and social-emotional delays, and they launched the organization to help improve access to these services.
“The children we serve deserve to get the services they need, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay,” said Executive Director Mary Anne Ruddis. “These things can change the trajectory of the child’s life for the rest of their life. Getting these services, it can make a difference, long-term.”
Since the first grant cycle in 2013, the organization has received 122 requests and funded 86 of those. The grant requests totaled more than $200,000, and of that, Elevations has funded almost $51,000 in grants.
The amount of requests demonstrates the need in the community, said Julie Hannan, an Elevations executive board member. Right now there are two grant cycles, in November and May, and they hope to add a third.
“We want to go bigger and better,” Hannan said.
The organization’s biggest fundraiser, the Ghost Ball, was last weekend. Hannan said they want Elevations to become a household name, and hope that some day, between Ghost Ball and other fundraisers, they won’t have to turn down any grant applicants.