Bob Wills is the Director of Sales for Food, Beverage and Nutrition at Viachem, and we’re grateful to have had his dedication and talent on our team since 2008. We’re thrilled that he has connected us with Apparo Academy, our selected charity for Quarter 1 of this year. In this personal interview, he shares his experience with Apparo Academy, a nonprofit school for children with special needs.
What attracted you to this cause and made you interested in Apparo Academy?
My wife faced major medical challenges during the pregnancy and birth of our 3rd daughter. Our daughter was born 2 months prematurely and spent 2 more months in the hospital before we were able to bring her home. A future of therapy lay ahead and this was only the beginning of the journey. The idea of Apparo Academy was first introduced to us by my daughter’s speech therapist who had the vision to open an inclusive school for those with special needs. We were introduced to Apparo Academy, which was only a concept, in 2018 and were there when it first opened in 2019. Our speech therapist had a vision, and it came true!
How have you been involved with this nonprofit school?
I was asked to join the board in late 2019, and it was a no-brainer for me. Having children of my own, one being special needs, I see the value the school brings to families like mine and also to our community as a whole. A school environment for ALL children where those requiring everything from special nursing care to therapy is tackled under one roof. I have witnessed firsthand the hope Apparo provides to families like mine and for that reason, I will always be a supporter of the school as well as involved as a board member as long as they will have me. The vision has become a reality here in Augusta, GA. I’m blessed to have the ability to give back to an organization that has provided so much for my family.
How has your daughter and your family been impacted by Apparo Academy?
There are numerous challenges a family faces with a special needs child. My daughter, Hampton Wills, has Cerebral Palsy and developmental delays. A day in the life of Hampton, my wife and I is quite a rocky road. Therapy is crucial for a child and scheduling is quite tumultuous. Typically, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy have to be scheduled and completed at home, and, oftentimes, a therapist may get sick or have to reschedule leaving a child without therapy in some cases stretching for a week to two weeks. This is a roadblock in the development of a child who critically needs consistent therapy. At Apparo, a child is able to receive nonstop therapy while in the classroom as well as one-on-one therapy in an isolated environment. Consistency and stability are key and this is a prayer that Apparo has answered not only for my family but also for many others in our community. The future of these children is much brighter with the love, support, education, and passion held by those at Apparo.
It was forever life-changing when my child was accepted into the school, it was an amazing relief to know she would be able to assimilate with other children, be in qualified care, and receive all of her therapies under one roof. I cannot stress how this school has provided a lifeline for my wife, family, and me. I think that speaks true to all the other families involved.
What makes Apparo Academy different from other schools and charities that tackle the same issue?
Apparo is much more than a charity. Many families with special needs children are without options in Richmond County, Georgia as well as across the country. Parents often face challenges with therapy scheduling, “daycare” options, and, in many cases, are not able to work due to the attention a child with special needs requires. Apparo Academy tackles all of these daily challenges in one support system.
Apparo also helps families financially. Having a child with special needs is very expensive and can become financially burdensome for families. Apparo is a resource to help families with the financial hurdles whether it be advisement for financial aid, via our amazing donors, or connecting with state workers for the qualification of state programs.
Having a child with special needs hits home and makes me appreciate so much about Apparo. It really does have an impact on the children and families. It provides hope for families and attributes to a healthier family environment. It also creates an opportunity for parents of children with special needs to get back in the workforce.
We have amazing support and donors who make Apparo a reality. I get chill bumps every time I see families/children at dropoff or pickup at the school. The impact it makes on our community is exponential.
How has the mission of Apparo changed you?
I am blessed to have a daughter with special needs. It has changed my outlook on life and allowed me to appreciate the small things in life. My little Hampton has exposed the fragility of life. Apparo Academy’s devotion to my child and interest in her well-being reminds me daily how lucky we are that Apparo gained momentum from a vision and became a reality. I will forever be indebted to Apparo Academy for what they do for my child and my family.