Angel Warriors Foundation hosts fourth fundraising gala

HOOVER – About 200 supporters and families impacted by the Angel Warriors Foundation showed up to take part in the organization’s fourth fundraising gala, A Night for the Angels, on Saturday, March 7, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

The Angel Warriors Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Alabaster that provides support to individuals with special needs or multiple medical disabilities and their families.

The Roaring 20s was revived at the gala with the theme “Let’s roar into 2020.” Guests were encouraged to wear Great Gatsby-inspired attire and the crowd did not disappoint. The event included dinner, a silent auction, charity blackjack and craps tables, a performance from students in Battleground Martial Arts’ special needs program, music by Thompson High School’s jazz band and remarks from individuals and families who have benefited from the services provided by AWF.

AWF President Jamia Alexander-Williams said more than 100 families throughout the greater Birmingham area are served by the organization every year. She added that the gala is the organization’s main fundraiser, and serves as a celebration of the local special needs community.

The gala typically raises $3,000 to $5,000 for the organization per year. The proceeds go toward funding annual programs hosted by the AWF, such as an Easter egg hunt, AWF 5K, summer camp, fall fest, Sensory Santa and much more.

“That may not sound like a lot of money, but it helps us get through the year,” said AWF Vice President Erika Zoebelein.

One of the speakers included Riley Ward, a junior at Thompson High School, who spoke to the crowd about her journey as someone diagnosed with autism and how thankful she is for the support she has received from the AWF and other organizations like it.

Parents with children served by the organization expressed how much AWF means to them.

“I love that we’ve found a community that’s accepting and advocates for the inclusion of all people,” said the father of a boy with Down syndrome.

Zoebelein, whose 16-year-old son is on the autism spectrum, said AWF has given her hope that Shelby County and surrounding communities can be changed for the better.

Alabaster City Schools Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers praised Williams, who is also on the Alabaster Board of Education, for representing what it means to be a champion for all children.

“Jamia is a great leader and Alabaster City Schools is very proud to support the Angel Warriors Foundation,” Vickers said. “We’ve formed a great partnership over the years.”

Vickers said the AWF’s most recent partnership with ACS was the installation of sensory paths at Creek View and Meadow View elementary schools, Thompson Intermediate School and the Warrior Center. A sensory path is a colorful, creative and playful way for kids to build sensory pathways, which are connections in the brain that are responsible for sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. Sensory paths also help improve motor skills like balance and spatial awareness. Sensory paths help to decrease stress and fidgeting while still engaging the senses and improving focus.

Zoebelein and Williams said they were so appreciative of the outpouring of support from the community.

“We’re still a young organization and there’s so much more that we want to do in the community to provide services and opportunities for people with special needs,” Zoebelein said.