The Hannah’s Hope 7th Annual Family Picnic was held on June 23 at Wicker Memorial Park in Highland. The event was dedicated for families that are a part of Hannah’s Hope to get together and meet each other. This year the event included exotic animals from Animals for Awareness, a singer and guitarist, and food provided by AHEPA, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.
Hannah’s Hope is a company that aims to assist families with special needs children by providing developmental equipment needed children to flourish.
Every year since the picnic has started, there has been a theme to go along with the fun activities. This year’s theme was luau. Kids were able to play in sand, blow bubbles, and play at the splash-pad at Wicker Park.
One of the planners for this event is Niki Avina, who had the honor of choosing the luau theme.
“We chose a luau this year to make it feel like a party. We change it up every year and it always gives the kids something to look forward to,” said Avina. “Every year we add sensory activities for everyone to enjoy. This is the only time in the year we meet everyone we give scholarships to. Everyone comes out and tells us about how we helped and the equipment we provided for them.”
Avina is not alone in planning the picnic. AHEPA, a group based in Gary and Merrillville, helped provide the food this year. The organization helps assist many people through providing food and services. Nick Gianikos is the Vice President of Philanthropy at the Gary chapter of AHEPA and loves coming to support the picnic each year.
“AHEPA loves to help out at events like this. We believe in everything that Hannah’s Hope does for people with special needs. It’s great to see people helping out others with disabilities. It is fun to help serve food to the people from this group,” said Gianikos.
Ryan Mojica and Michelle Kruse attended the picnic with their son. They loved being surrounded by others at the picnic. Hannah’s Hope has helped them with their son Vincent, who has autism.
“It is nice to come to an event like this to know that there are people going through the same thing. Sometimes it feels like you’re alone, but coming here and meeting all these families and kids really shows that there are others like you that are going through the same thing,” said Ryan Mojica.
“This year is our second year coming and it is always fun interacting with the families of Hannah’s Hope,” said Michelle Kruse.Hannah’s Hope holds many events throughout the year and is proud to bring families together and celebrate all that they have done for people. Be sure to check out their website at www.hannahshope.org.