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By Cathy Springer, Texas Chargers President & Deafblind Family Leader, Round Rock

Abstract: In October, families of children with CHARGE syndrome traveled from across Texas to participate in the Texas Charger's Festival 2006. Read about their exciting day and the non-profit organization that has formed as the result of this successful festival.

Key Words: Family, blind, deafblind, CHARGE syndrome, Texas Chargers Association, retreat, training

We are happy to announce that the Texas Chargers had their 1st Festival at Peaceable Kingdom Retreat in Killeen, Texas. It was a huge success with 21 families and about 160 people attending. We had CHARGE kids ranging in ages from 13 months to 18 years old.

Group photo of first Charger's gatheringThe day started out with representatives from different agencies from Texas sharing specific information about living with special needs children. We had the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Deafblind Outreach Program, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services- Division of Blind Services, and Texas Parent-to-Parent there to answer questions and share information.

We also had a carnival for all the kids to enjoy. The kids were able to have snow cones, cotton candy, play all kinds of games, jump in a jumping house, and ride a train. I think the train ride was the favorite for most kids.

Everyone was able to sit down and enjoy a fajita lunch. Next, we had Therapy Central with speakers talking about music therapy, vital stem therapy, and hippotherapy. While the parents were listening to the speakers, the kids got to go to the movie theater and arcade with the volunteers.

The families had a great time and were able to network and learn from each other. We had several families that had never met another CHARGE family. We also had 9 new families join the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation.

By the end of the day it was obvious that there was a growing need for the families to get together so we will make this an annual event free to the families. To help us accomplish this, we are in the process of forming The Texas Chargers, a non-profit group.

The Texas Chargers is a group of Texas families, friends, and professionals who are dedicated to helping children and young adults who live with CHARGE syndrome. The primary function of our group is to support the emotional and educational needs of people with CHARGE syndrome and the families and professionals working with them to provide them with a better quality of life.

The Texas Chargers goal is to help provide and access information specific to Texas families. We will do this by providing a stress-free retreat annually in Texas for the families where they can connect with others to share the joys and challenges of raising someone with special needs.

Three mother's holding their childrenThe Texas Chargers will support the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation in every way possible to continue their growth and success in promoting awareness and research regarding CHARGE syndrome's identification, cause and management. We will encourage all members to attend the bi-annual conference put on by the Foundation to allow our families to access the valuable resources they provide.

If you would like to get additional information or want to participate in our next event, please contact Cathy Springer at <>.