RECing Crew reaches a milestone

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Jon Cooper, 16, who is autistic, plays baseball with the Augusta GreenJackets at Lake Olmstead Stadium as part of a RECing Crew outing.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Jon Cooper, 16, who is autistic, plays baseball with the Augusta GreenJackets at Lake Olmstead Stadium as part of a RECing Crew outing.

Alexis Moss often meets parents of special needs children who are reluctant to get their children involved in extracurricular activities. Parents aren’t sure of their children’s ability.

However, after watching her son thrive in the programs offered by the nonprofit RECing Crew, she advocates the program wherever she goes.

“It’s something I really believe in,” said Moss, whose son Rodney, an 11-year-old Tutt Middle School pupil, is autistic. “I have applications in my car.”

Rodney has been involved with the RECing Crew for about four years and participates in the numerous activities offered by the organization, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Pam Stickler, of North Augusta, founded the program in 2002 as an outlet for her 33-year-old son, Stephen, who has cerebral palsy. It began with a bowling group called the Alley Cats, which started with only 25 people.

The organization now has about 150 participants ranging in age from 6 to 72. Children must be at least 6 to participate, she said. The Alley Cats had 90 people involved last year.

Other sports programs include basketball and baseball. There’s Jazzercise and an art class, and there are several special events during the year, including a winter ball, the arrival of Santa on a motorcycle at a Christmas party and a sports banquet.

Glenda and Jackie Cooper’s sons, Jon, a 16-year-old Evans High School student, and Matt, a 13-year-old Evans Middle School student, are both autistic and take part in as many RECing Crew events as they can, said Jackie Cooper.

“They are able to participate in bowling, baseball, basketball,” said Jackie Cooper. “They love it.”

They also enjoy the special events, including the winter ball, “because they get to listen to a DJ and dance with the young ladies from the church youth group,” he said.

Moss said Rodney has received a number of benefits.

“It keeps him active, and he’s a little overweight. It keeps him social,” she said.

The RECing Crew has spilled over into his school work, she said, and has helped him in his testing and his teachers have noticed.

“He’s not afraid,” she said.

Because of the fundraisers the organization puts on and other community support it receives, the activities are often free or have a small cost associated with them, said Moss.

Not only do the children and adults with special needs benefit from the numerous programs offered, the parents also benefit, Moss and Cooper said.

“We get to interact with parents and talk about various issues. We get excellent information. It’s good,” said Cooper.

While there are no new programs on the horizon, Stickler said she’s trying to expand the existing ones into Columbia County and the city of Aiken. Currently, most of the programs take place in North Augusta.

“I never dreamed that The RECing Crew would be where we are today,” she said. “I have been very lucky to have the support of some very wonderful families who share the same vision, and I cannot say enough about our local civic organizations and businesses that always help us when we ask.

“With this support we have been able to become a 501(c)3 and a community partner with the United Way of Aiken.

“With this continued support, I do believe that we will be able to continue these programs and expand them to the communities where they are needed.”

To learn more about the RECing Crew, visit www.therecingcrew.com or call (803) 426-1284.


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