A Rockford church challenges the community to unleash its inner superhero, for kids who need one.
Rockford First will host its annual Superhero Dash on Sunday and it benefits a one-of-a-kind facility. The dash is a 5k run that will be held this Sunday, August 14th at 12:30, on the Christian Life track. Anyone can participate for $10, which benefits the church’s “Champion’s Club” a program designed to cater to the needs of children with developmental disabilities.
The specialized rooms of Rockford First are filled with dancing fish and color-changing bubbles, lighted swinging chairs, and building blocks.
“We have so many amazing families and really that is what it’s all about,” said Lead Pastor Jen DeWeerdt. “[It’s] a place where families can come and their kids get top notch care.”
Champion’s Club began four years ago when Lead Pastors Jen and Jeremy DeWeerdt had their third child, Paxton. He was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and they realized the need for something like this in the community.
“We started hearing stories about families who were unable to come to church because certain facilities in other churches weren’t able to provide a place and so that broke our heart. We said we wanted to do something about it.”
“For any parent, when you aren’t with your kids, there’s that level of… worrying about them for a little bit,” said Rockford First Member Josh Horton. But, there’s a whole new level to that when you have a child with special needs.”
There are four rooms where kids of all ages with special needs can find something they need and get one on one time with their own coach, the physical therapy room, where kids can jump and play, to a sensory room where it’s quiet, but full of color.
“They need… a structure and a routine and flexibility from those around them and understanding that certain things might set them off or they struggle with,” DeWeerdt says.
“That has been a huge blessing on us just seeing their excitement and wanting to go,” said Horton.
Each year, it continues to grow having a profound impact on the congregation and the families they help.