On April 11, 2015, the Junior League of Cedar Rapids hosted JLCR: Fostering Strength, Iowa’s largest foster care advocacy event, a dinner and silent auction. JLCR was honored to host Dr. Jennifer Arnold, MD, MSc, FAAP as keynote speaker for this year’s event.
Standing at just 3 foot, 2 inches, Dr. Arnold is best known for being featured in TLC’s docu-drama The Little Couple, featuring her husband Bill and children Will and Zoey. She has a rare type of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia Type Strudwick (which involved more than 30 surgeries), and recently completed treatment for cancer.
Now in its 7th season, the show has proven to be an invaluable method to break down barriers and educate people around the country about people with disabilities. Dr. Arnold and her husband Bill recently embarked on their greatest adventure yet—parenthood. Will and Zoey are both adopted, and both children have forms of dwarfism.
Proceeds from the Fostering Strength fundraiser support Junior League of Cedar Rapids’ Bridging the G.A.P. project, which assists local foster care youth through a variety of activities. The evening commenced with a cocktail hour and silent auction featuring over 60 items, including an overnight stay and dinner for two at Hotel Kirkwood, Iowa football tickets, and family portrait sessions.
During the silent auction, attendees also had the opportunity to sponsor local foster care youth that are involved in the Partnership of Iowa Foster Care Youth Council’s Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP), a program that JLCR connects with on a bi-weekly basis. Among these sponsorships were senior portrait sessions for the five AMP teens nearing high school graduation, a tradition that is often overlooked with seniors in the foster care system.
JLCR is also hoping to make the dreams of several AMP teens come true with the sponsorship of “camp experiences”. Basketball camp, piano lessons, art classes, and voice lessons are all activities that most teens take for granted, many of which AMP teens do not have the privilege of experiencing. Attendees had the opportunity to sponsor AMP individuals to experience camp or private lessons; these sponsorships not only include the general activity fees, but also the means to attend, such as art equipment or basketball shoes. Pottery created by participating AMP youth was also featured in the silent auction.
Together we can strive to better the lives of over 900 youth that are currently in the foster care system in Linn County.