Guest post: Sons of Sawdust

I first learned about ESP 4 years ago when we moved to Athens from Nashville, TN. I was a Special Ed teacher and Autism therapist before I married Matt, and when we moved to Athens, I was looking for ways to stay connected to the special needs community in our area. I was immediately very impressed by the quality of the ESP website, the branding, the vision, the programs, and the events that I saw. It wasn’t until a couple years later that I was able to meet the amazing Laura Whitaker and actually visit ESP. Laura and I connected through Facebook and decided to grab coffee together. We shared our stories about life, business, and special needs and ended the conversation with visions and dreams for ways Sons of Sawdust could collaborate with ESP. As a business, at Sons of Sawdust, one of our missions is to connect with our community and always be serving and giving back. ESP was very in line with what we wanted to be a part of. I actually came to a Flag Day event with our kids and loved the excitement and enthusiasm I saw in the staff, the kids and the families that were present. Such a fun event! 


This past winter we had the privilege, as a business, to attend the Big Hearts event which we had heard so much about. We had a blast! What an incredible event! I was BLOWN AWAY by the expertise, attention to detail, high quality, and pure excellence of the entire event. You see, I have a younger sister with special needs, and typically the events that she was a part of were a little on the mediocre side. They were sweet events, done with the best intentions. The quality and execution of those events was sub par though, and those kids deserved so much more. 

Big Hearts is the culmination of every dream and idea that family members have for their loved ones with special needs. It was almost surreal. The production and pageant itself was so well done! The kids performed like movie stars, beaming with pride and shining with a glory that is always in them, but not everyone can see. Their glory was on full display that night. These kids charmed us with their humor, their wit, their beauty and their dance moves. I cried several times because of how precious it was to see these kids do something so huge on a stage and on their own! I also laughed, a lot. It was good for the soul. And then the dinner in the banquet room? Oh my goodness! I felt like I was royalty or at a really posh wedding. World class decorations, food, drinks and live music. I also loved getting to hear the stories of parents, founders, staff and donors and a little bit of the vision for the future. All the while the kids were still the stars, not hidden in some back room, but included and celebrated for all to see. 
What a wonderful organization ESP is. We are truly honored to be part of the ESP family. They are a rare gem and we adore them and all that they do.