SPEEDWAY, Ind. (e-HUM) – More than 400 volunteers, exhibitors and visitors experienced the third annual Special Needs Family Resource and Information Fair held at and sponsored by Speedway UMC on West 16th Street.

Event coordinator Beth DeHoff said more than 330 visitors took advantage of the fair’s 54 exhibitors and vendors for families with special needs children.

She said, “We heard many stories of hope. One woman told me that she felt a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

“Another mother told some of our committee members that she had been at her wit’s end the night before, at a loss for how to help her child. She said she prayed to God to help her find the resources that could help him. Saturday, she just happened to be driving down 16th Street, saw our sign and stopped in.”

DeHoff continued, “I am always struck by how much need these families have, and yet how strong they are, and how dedicated to finding solutions for their children. Information and resources don’t just help families, they empower them. This was a day of feeling the love of Christ in our church, through the many people there who can help and the volunteers who are constantly complimented for their friendliness and helpfulness, wrapping these families in the love of Christ and empowering them to move forward as only Jesus can.”

In addition to the exhibits, the church provided a low-cost lunch, children’s games in the parking lot and plenty of volunteers to welcome, interact with and feed fair visitors.

DeHoff advises congregations or clusters who would like to hold a disability fair to establish a small group of committed volunteers to coordinate it. Leaders also need to partner with disability service organizations in their area who will commit to attend the event and publicize the event widely.

Providing this kind of ministry requires volunteers to be very involved in the world outside of the church.

Speedway UMC’s next fair is scheduled for April 28, 2012. Disability Fair leaders of Speedway UMC would like to see other United Methodist churches in northern and southern Indiana hold fairs on the same day, for a great day of love extended from Indiana’s United Methodist Churches to Hoosier families of children and adults with disabilities.

For more information and advice, feel free to contact DeHoff at dehoff5@att.net. She is chair of the Disability Concerns Network of The United Methodist Church, as well as, head of the Disability Concerns Team for the Indiana Conference.

Together photos

Beth DeHoff talks with participants at the Disability Fair.

“Information and resources don’t just help families, they empower them.”

– Beth DeHoff

More than 50 vendors interacted with 330 visitors to the Disability Fair held at Speedway UMC.