Crusade funds exceed $1.6 million after 20 years

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 Funding from the WHAS-11 Crusade for Children to Bullitt County Public Schools over the past 20 years has exceeded $1.6 million.

Most of that money has been raised by coins tossed into pails held by firefighters at stop lights. A big highlight of the Crusade features firefighters at the WHAS-11 studio reading a lengthy list of contributors followed by the classic cadence of coins filling plastic containers.

Every cent donated in Bullitt County returns as a grant for the purchase of equipment that enhances the education of special needs students. Firefighters from Mt. Washington, Shepherdsville, Southeast Bullitt and Zoneton are weekend fixtures at traffic light intersections in May and June.

“We are extremely grateful for all the wonderful opportunities students in Bullitt County have had as a result of the generosity of the citizens who contribute to the WHAS Crusade for Children,” said District Director of Special Education Monica Tharp.

Most grants over the past two decades range between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. In 2003, the district received its largest Crusade grant to date at $101,126.45.

Funds that year purchased computers for classrooms to assist learning disabled students along with assistive technology materials, speech and language materials, preschool testing, occupational therapy and physical therapy materials.

“Money has been used for everything from skilled services like nursing to specialized equipment for students with physical disabilities,” Tharp said. “Crusade funds have also helped Bullitt County Schools keep up with the cutting-edge technologies which allow students to achieve independence in areas that are often inaccessible for them without it.”

“Skills that are basic to most children, such as communication, reading, writing and math, can cause profound struggle for students with autism or learning differences,” Tharp continued. “Assistive technology helps level the playing field for students who learn differently, and allows students with disabilities the opportunity to achieve in school, and to dream about a future that could include college or vocational training.”

Despite an economy which fluctuates like a roller coaster, residents of the Louisville Metropolitan area and southern Indiana have remained faithful givers to the Crusade.

Tharp reminds principals to inform their staff that when donating, make sure it is in Bullitt County.

“This year, we have asked the Crusade for money to help us buy two vans, one with a wheelchair lift,” Tharp said. “The vans will be used to take students with disabilities out to the community for real-world learning experiences. Access to community resources helps students with significant disabilities develop domestic, vocational community access and transportation, and recreational and leisure skills that will be used in life.”

“This training enhances the education we provide in the school building, thus better preparing our youth for a successful life following high school,” Tharp added. “Students in all levels benefit from community-based learning experiences, but it is vital for middle and high school students as part of their transition to a post-secondary program.”

Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,200 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working to make the district the leader in educational excellence.