Private Event Raises Funds for The Children’s Center at USM
Mon, 10/09/2023 - 02:30pm | By: Courtney Tesh
If you had driven by the home of the Roses on the evening of May 6, 2023, you may have thought for a moment that you were in the wrong state. Guest after guest could be seen entering the home donning suspenders, fascinators, bow ties, and hats. Bright colors abound as couples passed through the front door to an entryway dripping in roses.
Inside, the Kentucky Derby played on screens throughout the home and friends clinked glasses custom-engraved by Carter’s Fine Jewelry filled with mint juleps and champagne served by Jamie Farris of Lincoln Road Package Store, all while Half Shell Oyster House filled the air with the aroma of fresh grilled oysters.
Run for the Roses may have been held at the Rose family’s home in the Timberton neighborhood of Hattiesburg, but the scene was straight out of Kentucky. The event, the first of its kind, was a private Derby-themed gathering hosted by several families in the Hattiesburg community with one overarching goal in mind – raising funds for The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at USM.
Hosts included Dr. Beth and Jeff Rose, Dr. Melanie and Jerry Hall, Chrissy and Ben Yelverton, Sarah and Bradley Myers, Jenny and Brad Boudreaux, Candace and Kent Oliver, Amanda and Robert Lee, Jackie and Max Dyar, and Marina and Todd Little.
“Our daughter, Aubrey, attended The Children’s Center, and we had such a great experience there,” said Jeff Rose of he and wife, Dr. Beth Rose’s connection to the Center and motivation behind helping host this event. “Seeing firsthand the impact that this program has on children and families in our region, Beth and I really wanted to be a part of something that not only helps the children currently enrolled at the Center, but those who will be in need of their services in the future.”
The Children’s Center, a non-profit serving children ages 0-5 with complex communication needs and disabilities has locations on both USM campuses and maintains a waitlist full of children needing those very services. The team of experts at the Center includes speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, a pediatric audiologist, listening and spoken language therapists, a special instructor, a social worker, and support staff who work together to create and carryout individualized, comprehensive therapy plans for each child enrolled at the Center, all at no cost to their families.
One of the countless individuals impacted by The Children’s Center since its inception in 1974 is Layla Lee. “Although (my husband) Ben and I did not know each other at the time, in 2012, a very special little girl entered both of our lives,” said Chrissy Yelverton, a friend of The Children’s Center and a host of Run for the Roses. “We were both friends of the Lee family, and through this shared friendship, we experienced firsthand the roller coaster of emotions one experiences when bringing home a baby with special needs. As our friends welcomed their daughter, Layla, we saw the joy she brought to everyone’s lives. But we also saw the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with a rare diagnosis.”
Layla was diagnosed with Jacobsen syndrome at birth and received speech, physical, and occupational therapy from The Children’s Center from infancy until she graduated at the age of 5.
Chrissy goes on to explain the impact that The Children’s Center had on their friends’ lives.
“I can still remember the immediate sense of relief in her mother’s voice and the confidence and hope she found after being connected with The Children’s Center. For families to have access to the expertise and resources of this program without having to worry about any financial constraints is truly amazing. Ben and I hope to always play a small part in the continued efforts of The Children’s Center.”
And it’s clear this is a sentiment shared by each Run for the Roses host. “Watching so many families that the Center has touched come together with the shared goal of raising money for an organization that helped our little ones we love so much during that pivotal first chapter of their lives was incredible,” said Jeff Rose. “I know I speak for all of the hosts when I say that we are beyond grateful to everyone who came, volunteered their services, sponsored, and donated. Seeing what started as an idea come to life and exceed our expectations was really special to see. Thanks to all those involved, this event brought in double the amount we hoped to raise for The Children’s Center.”
“We were absolutely floored by the support from our community through this event,” said Sarah Myers, Director at The Children’s Center. “It was so moving to see not only the response to the event and the number of attendees who came out to support us, but to watch as friends of the Center, families who have been touched by our work in one way or another, pour their time, energy, and talents into making this event so incredible, all in honor of our little ones and their families. We can’t overstate our gratitude for this group of wonderful hosts and for the individuals and local businesses who played a role in the success of what we hope will be the first of many such events.”
About The Children’s Center for Communication and Development
The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi is a non-profit that provides cost-free communicative and developmental transdisciplinary services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers while educating, training, and supporting families, university students and professionals.