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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Sedalia organization seeks to aid the disabled

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dillon Watterson (right) with his sister Hannah, children of Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Watterson in Hughesville, check out their new ramp for the van. The funding for the ramp was provided by Association for Persons with Disabilities, along with the First Hand Foundation.
(Contributed photo)
Editor's note: This is a series profiling United Way agencies.

James Rennison, president of the Association for Persons with Disabilities, Inc., suffers from cerebral palsy, but his ailments has not disabled him from helping others out there with disabilities.

"What we do is we provide items and services for people with developmental disabilities," Rennison said. "There's no other funding source for them at all and sometimes the need is so big they have to do several different funding sources to get what they need. Like if somebody needs a ramp or home remodeling, those tend to be big projects and service coordinators ask several sources for money to get what they need."

Rennison said developmental disabilities is basically a severe disability that starts before the age of 22 and it will last a lifetime such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and autism.

The Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD) was formed in March 2002, when Cerebral Palsy of Mid-Missouri, the Association for People with Handicaps and the Mid-Missouri Parent Support Network, all merged into one.

Before the merger, the three groups served disabled people from Sedalia and Pettis County only, but after, Rennison said the organization has helped Saline County residents "because they needed services and equipment that no one else would pay for."

However, with this outreach to Saline County, Rennison and APD needed funding because a large amount of the money the organization receives in Pettis County must be spent in Pettis County. Marshall United Way are the ones that reached back and allowed APD to serve the disabled in Marshall.

"We got involved because we already serve service coordinators in Sedalia for the Center," Rennison said. "So the ones in Marshall started asking us for money too because they had nowhere else to go."

According to the organization's brochure, the board consists of a "diverse group of individuals that range from special education teachers, social workers, physical therapists and parents of children with disabilities." The organization will cooperate with other service organizations within the community to assist the needs of the disabled. A few of the opportunities that the organization provides funding for are assistive technology, such as a shower chair or wheelchair; home remodeling to accommodate for assistive technology; specialized summer camps that allow disabled individuals to experience unique outings and meet friends; and educational opportunities to help parents know how to better interact and deal with their child's disability.

Medicaid and other programs cover a large portion of costs for these items. But items like therapy and dental care are not always covered by Medicaid and sometimes, families just aren't eligible.

Rennison's quest to help others with disabilities has been a long one.

"I was on the board and the treasurer of Cerebral Palsy of Mid-Missouri since '85," Rennison said.

Ever since, Rennison has been actively involved in helping others who suffer from disabilities.

Contact Jesse Brown at jbrown@marshallnews.com

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