COPPERAS COVE — There are many reasons the community came out to the Copperas Cove Association for Challenged Citizens flapjack fundraiser breakfast Saturday at Applebee’s. Meagan Marlow is one of them.
Marlow won a gold medal in the inaugural Special Olympics cycling competition at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in March. And she was up at 1:30 a.m. Saturday anxious to compete again, said her mother, Karlene Brooks.
After a hearty breakfast at the flapjack fundraiser, she was off to compete in a 200-meter run, standing long jump and an alternative relay at the Special Olympics in Gatesville. Marlow is a 25-year-old cognitively challenged woman who attends the Central Counties MHMR training center in Cove.
“If it wasn’t for CCACC supporting the training center, my daughter would not have had many an enriching experience,” Brooks said. “They meet the needs of so many individuals and they go out of their way to vary the experiences for people like Meagan.”
The breakfast is the biggest fundraiser for the organization and it makes such a difference in the services and support they are able to offer providers such as MHMR, said Doris Bolicki, vice president of CCACC.
“For many challenged people, once they graduate high school there is no other place for them to go,” she said. “The training center is sometimes the only socialization they experience. We also provide support for caregivers and parents, and that’s why community support like the turnout today is so important.”
It’s important in more ways than one for Linda Wilson, the supervisor at the MHMR Cove training center. Wilson said at age 9 she was a hug buddy at a Special Olympics event.
“I knew that day I wanted to do this for the rest of my life,” she said.
Then 19 years ago when she gave birth to Erin Elizabeth Wilson, she, too, had a special-needs child.
“It was a blessing to have her in our lives and I felt like I had done something right in a past life to deserve her,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t always easy but she was pure joy and she felt it every day of her life.”
Erin Wilson lived 11 years longer than doctors gave her and died 10 years ago of terminal kidney disease. Today, Linda Wilson works with others like her daughter because it’s her mission.
“You do jobs like this because your heart tells you that you need to do it,” she said. “It’s a calling to take care of them.”
The breakfast was an all-you-can-eat buffet, and 100 percent of funds raised by CCACC will go back into the community to help challenged individuals. Nearly 60 people bought tickets to attend the event.