We all know how important play is for childhood development, and, few things are as magical as watching a child’s face light up when exploring a favorite toy.
For special needs children, however, toys designed for neuro-typical and physically-typical kids, often fail to meet their fundamental need for play.
The Gerlach family wants to make the world a more inclusive one for all children. Children, like their son Benjamin, who was born at only 25 weeks old on June 30, 2012. Along with his brother Colin and sister Ava, Ben spent 4-5 months in the NICU.
Once discharged, Ben’s challenges would continue. He relied on a feeding tube, had limited motor ability, visual impairment and was nonverbal. The Gerlachs knew he would have a tough road ahead of him.
Four years later, Ben passed away of respiratory failure on May 2, 2016. Though his life was brief, and often difficult, the Gerlachs were blessed with a happy, thriving child, thanks to the support of friends, family, doctors, therapists and more, who helped him live his best life.
The Gerlachs wanted to honor their sons memory, and honor those heroes who helped him along the way. To do so, they launched the Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation to bring adaptive toys to deserving children and to help spread acceptance of kids with all abilities. Continue reading