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Russell Salvatore helps give a much needed break for parents with children with special needs

Posted at 4:18 PM, Jan 21, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — If you're a parent you know how hard it is to find sometime for yourself, Olya Schumacher has a daughter with physical needs and finding that time is even harder.

Kaitlyn Schumacher is almost four years old and has Spina Bifida which limits her motor skills. She enjoys playing around with her brother and other children at Sensational Fun in Orchard Park. The non-profit organization helps families with special needs children- from Autism, to Spina Bifida, to Down syndrome-- there are trained professionals looking after children to give parents a break.

"Any parent with a special needs child will tell you that our stress level is very high," Schumacher said. "Being able to find an hour to ourselves is very hard."

Executive Director Jennifer Kline opened up Sensational Fun in June 2016 as a non-profit to help give parents peace of mind when leaving their children. Many parents cannot just call up a babysitter because their child needs extra care and many special care providers can cost up to $20 an hour, Kline added.

Today was a special day as Russell Salvatore donated $8,000 to pay for children with special needs to be taken care of at the therapeutic play center for free while the parents have a few hours to do whatever they want. Salvatore doubled his donation from last year, allowing parents to have a "Parent Day Out" and "Parent Night Out" all in the same week.

"There is 85,000 kids and adults in Erie County with a disability, so there is a lot of need," Kline said. "These parents don't have to worry about anything now, they know their kids are being taken care of with the appropriate care, appropriate staff-- for free."

Olya and Brad Schumacher originally planned to go snowmobiling on their day off, but with the cold, decided to get a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons and go grocery shopping.

"It actually allows my husband and I to spend some time together," Schumacher said. "The last time we did it, it was like wow you know we haven't talked in months so it's great to sit across from each other just to connect."

Schumacher said Kaitlyn has been approved for medicaid waiver services for respite, a short-term relief by a care provider, but have been on the waiting list for a year. They were told they could be on the waiting list for three-to-five years. Schumacher added that Kaitlyn has had to have multiple surgeries and the family doesn't like to spend money on dates or outings, so days like today are a real treat.

"It gives me great peace of mind that both Kaitlyn and her brother are taken care of because a lot of places only let you bring your child with special needs." Schumacher said. "What I love about this place is that it is inclusive, there's always activities that my daughter with needs can do and my son without needs... they can play together."

With the generous donation, "Parent Night Out" will be held this upcoming Friday from 6pm-8:30pm. Visit The Sensational Fun website for more details.