Lakewood OH

Connecting for Kids to honor five at annual benefit

WESTSHORE – Connecting for Kids will honor five individuals who have helped fulfill the organization’s mission at its annual fundraiser Feb. 24 at Ahern Catering & Banquet Center, 726 Avon Belden Road in Avon Lake. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Founded by Westlake mother Sarah Rintamaki, the nonprofit group serves as a resource for parents who have concerns about their child’s development.

Mariel Krakowiak, of Olmsted Falls, will receive the Parent of the Year award. She founded the Olmsted Falls Helping Hands program that connects students with special needs to their typical peers in the Olmsted Falls City School District.

Ellen Spear, a speech language pathologist and co-owner of Lakeshore Speech Therapy of Lakewood, is the organization’s Professional of the Year. The Lakewood resident launched Running with the Cats, a program which connects St. Ignatius High School students to children with special needs for the purpose of training together for 5K runs.

Meghan Barlow, a pediatric psychologist who resides in Avon Lake, will be honored as Connecting for Kids board member of the year.

Two children, Jackson Bolognia and Tom Kuemerle of Avon Lake, will be awarded the Beyond the Bench Award, which is given to a child under 13 years of age who demonstrates the characteristics of the Connecting for Kids Beyond the Bench Training Program that teaches kindness and compassion. Bolognia and Kuemerle helped a peer who was having a difficult time in school navigating social interactions.

Tickets for the 2017 Connecting for Kids Annual Fundraiser cost $65 per person and include appetizers, drinks, dessert and entertainment. For more information or to reserve a ticket, visit, email or call 1-440-250-5563.



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