This year at S’Mores and Pours, we will be honoring someone special in our community that exemplifies that which we believe is essential when supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
It was easy to select this year’s Honorary Encourage Leader. Our community is tremendously fortunate to have Mary Anne Hammond. She is sincere, is encouraging, understands the importance of inclusion, focuses on the good in others and the strengths each individual has, and, without a doubt leads with her heart.
Presently, Mary Anne serves as the Community Education Coordinator for Autism and Related Disorders for the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences for Children’s Mercy Kansas City. With grace and encouragement, she is a message of hope for families impacted by ASD–leading monthly parent trainings and community outreach. She strives to provide the type of trainings and information she wishes her family had when her daughter first received an autism diagnosis many years ago.
Prior to her role at Children’s Mercy Hospital and with five other passionate families and one big dream, Mary Anne helped start the FIRE Foundation. Fueled by faith and determination, they united on a mission to open the doors of Catholic schools to children with special needs. During the past two decades, FIRE has provided over $5 million to support inclusive Catholic education at partner schools. To further demonstrate her devotion to serving others and her love for supporting those with unique abilities, Mary Anne has been very involved with the Children’s Spot at St. Luke’s hospital–serving on the Board for many years.
Her 25 year old adult daughter, Kailey, who has a profound intellectual disability and severe autism, is the reason for her devotion to children with special needs. Mary Anne and her husband Dan have been married for 30 years and have two children in addition to Kailey. Their daughter Julia, 22 is a recent KU graduate and is currently a Kindergarten teacher in a Catholic school in Shawnee and their son Daniel, 18, is a senior at Shawnee Mission East.
We look forward to having Mary Anne at S’Mores and Pours as our Honorary Guest next Friday. She is an ENCOURAGER and clearly a strong, full-of-love LEADER.