Saturday, May 25, 2013

Special Needs Cheerleading Program Invitation!!

Elite Energy invites you to join our new Special Needs Cheerleading Program!!!!

Where:  Elite Energy Gymnastics & Cheer is located at 2121 Battlefield Parkway in Murfreesboro, TN

What:  Are you looking for a place where your son/daughter can stay active, build muscle, learn coordination skills, gain interactive skills with peers, form team bonding and have an opportunity to perform (and have FUN)?  Well, lucky for you, I am creating a Cheerleading team specifically for Individuals with Special Needs! My name is Brittney Graves & I graduated from MTSU with a Bachelor's degree in Special Education comprehensive & wanted to create an opportunity to give back to the community with LITTLE to NO COST.

If you are interested in enrolling your son or daughter in our program I would love to speak with you!  Please contact me at Elite Energy (615) 890-6611 or my cell (615) 653-8938.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Since this is a new addition I will work with you to make "tryout" times available to you and your child.  I look forward to meeting you and your child as part of this exciting new program!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Good Night to Snuggle Your Kids

You've, no doubt, all heard the tragic story about the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school this morning.  Tragic actually seems like a serious understatement though, doesn't it?  All afternoon I have sat listening to reports of this crime on the radio and then watching the coverage on nearly every television channel & no matter how much I hear the story told, cannot begin to fathom how you, as a parent, would make it through a situation like this.  You drop your kids off at school every morning, knowing that they are going to spend the next 8 hours being safe and cared for by the teachers and staff surrounding them.  At no point do we ever think necessary to contemplate "what ifs" like an unstable person (like 20 yr old Adam Lanza) opening fire in a school filled with 5 to 10 yr olds!!  I wonder what has to go so wrong in a young person's life that they thought killing 20 innocent children and 6 adults....including your own MOTHER....was a viable option. This is clearly one of those inexplicable stories that leaves people with more questions than answers. 

Tonight we can pray.  Pray for the families affected by this senseless tragedy that they can somehow, eventually, find peace in the midst off all this pain.  Aside from that, call the kids in to the same room tonight.  Have a family movie night. Have a family game night.  Cleave to your loved ones & tell them how much they mean to you, because if today's events in Newtown have reaffirmed anything it's that anything can change in the blink of an eye.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Did you hear?  Thanksgiving in just 2 days away!!  

I have my 20lb turkey (I lack the ability to cook anything smaller....or is that I refuse to?? lol) thawing in the refrigerator, potatoes are in the pantry and I'm ready to cook up the chestnuts to make Grandma's stuffing.  I feel like I'm half doing it this year because I'm not making my pumpkin pie from scratch & I have spent more time than I should have today thinking about that one tiny little detail.  Why?  Is the world going to come to a screeching halt because I don't make a homemade pie?  Will Scott & the kids love me less because I serve up slices of a pie from the Publix bakery? (Honestly, if I were going to serve one other than my own, Publix is the way to go! But I digress...) Like so many others, we're on a serious budget this season & that is nothing to be ashamed of! In focusing on this stupid store-bought pie, I took time away from focusing on things that I am truly thankful for....things that are truly important.

For me, and I think any mom you know, I'm thankful for the obvious things in my life: My husband who provides for his family, keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table.  My kids, Graham & Emalea who continue to teach me the lesson of patience, humor & demonstrate what true love really is. Aside from the obvious, I'm thankful for Mt. Dew.  It's yellow and fizzy & I find it truly delightful. I'm thankful for Facebook.  It's an utter time waster, but over the last few years has given me the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.  Friends from high school, old roommates, old co-workers & even a couple of my cousins whom I had lost touch with.  So, while I can log on and post sarcastic & snarky postcards (which I do enjoy immensely), play SongPop, Bubble Witch or even build and run my very own restaurant, Facebook has given me the opportunity to use it for a greater purpose.  Lastly, I'm thankful for CAPE.  

Five years ago, when I heard the word 'cape', I thought of superheros like Superman (although I have never understood why he would wear a's the perfect item of clothing to get sucked in to passing airplanes and it's a choking hazard!!  For such a brilliant guy, you'd think he would have thought of that!).  When I thought of capes, I thought of magicians. This was the extent of my thoughts on "cape".  Now Graham is 14 (yikes!) and Ema is 10 and 'cape' has a whole new meaning for me and my family.  CAPE is Rick.  CAPE is Sara.  CAPE is KJ.  Like my aforementioned uses of 'cape', these three are super, just like Superman (or in Sara's case, Wonder Woman, I suppose & KJ, Cosmic Boy [a part of the Legion of Superheros....I did my homework, folks!]).  These 3 are magic.  Not in the David Copperfield sense of the word, but rather in what they do...who they are.  My mom, who lives in Michigan, loves hearing stories of CAPE & has always been blown away by the Ryan's.  That they created this organization for special needs individuals, yet did not have a child with special needs themselves.  What kind of person does that?  A terribly special and blessed person(s), that's who.  Now, because of them, families like ours have a place where our kids (no matter how tall, small, old or young) can SPORTS!!  Sports that in most likely situations, our kids wouldn't be able to find a home or acceptance. We have a place where friends are made, parents understand "meltdowns" and never ever ask "What is wrong with your child?", "Why can't you get a handle on him/her?", "If you'd just discipline them....." and dirty looks are never ever thrown your way.  Graham was never interested, and forget focused enough, to play any sport.  He couldn't even play TAG!!  No joke lol.  Tag with Graham was just a big game of chase.  Man, did that ever tick off kids at the park!!  Looking back, it's extremely funny, but if you'd have told me then that years later he would play...and ENJOY, basketball, soccer, street hockey and would be a crazy good bowler, I would have laughed at you and told you were nuts.  If you'd have told me I would have a pre-teen (ish) daughter that would CHOOSE to play sports with a group of special needs kids rather than playing with her NT peers, I wouldn't have believed it.  Now Graham plays all of the above sports and Emalea turns down sports leagues with her closest friends to play with CAPE season after season.  What did I do so right to have hit such a jackpot in my kids? 

Sometimes I don't think a lot of people stop to think about just how much time, energy and love Rick Ryan puts in to this organization, but that's precisely what I'm asking you to do this Thanksgiving.  He doesn't ask for you to gush over him.  In fact, he'd probably poo poo you if you did (lol).  The bottom line, however, is that without Rick, his heart & vision, we wouldn't have this amazing place to call home. Without Sara, CAPE wouldn't have such a gentle heart and kind spirit & without KJ, some of our kids wouldn't have such a spectacular young man that many of our kids look up to, have crushes on or, like Graham, consider their best friend. I think that we all have an awful lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, don't you?


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coach Profile: Get To Know Josh Nipper

Hello, and welcome to the new working progress of the C.A.P.E. blog! Whether interviews, updates or mindless happiness that is just aimed to put a smile on your face, this is where you’ll find it!

I wanted to kick things off with an interview with one of our coaches…Josh Nipper. If your son/daughter has participated in baseball, soccer or basketball, I’m sure you know who he is. I got to thinking though (scary, I know lol): we see Josh coaching our kids in all of these various sports, but how well do any of us really KNOW him? All that changes today!

                                        (Left to right) Josh, Rick & KJ
Q:  How long have you been volunteering with CAPE?
A: I began my work with CAPE in 2009 during my senior year of high school. I began as an assistant coach and have worked from that to a regular head coach and advisory board member of the organization.
Q:  What made you start, maybe even more importantly, what made you STAY?

A: As mentioned, I began to volunteer my senior year. I was enrolled in a class that would let class out a couple hours early so you could volunteer with a non-profit organization. Luckily Mr. Ryan lives right across the street, so it was no problem finding one. After my very first time assisting in basketball, I fell in love with the kids. They always have a positive attitude and are simply fun to be around.

Q:  What is your favorite sport to PLAY?  What's your favorite sport to COACH?

A: My favorite sport to play and coach would have to be baseball.

Q:  On Saturday mornings, what do you like to eat for breakfast before you come to CAPE?

A: Normally I will just eat a bowl of cereal and some fruit, but from time to time I will stop at the Subway close to the fields.

Q:  Are you in the Marines?  Is it fun?

A: I am currently an Officer Candidate in the United States Marine Corps. I have successfully graduated my first half of training and will continue to my second half this summer. I am the squad leader of Officer Candidates in the Middle Tennessee area.

Q:  If you won a million dollars today, what would you spend it on?

A: If I won a million dollars, I would spend it on the CAPE Organization. I would buy a top-notch facility, TV- Time, and all the gear the kids could ever need. The remaining amount would be left in a place where it’s interest could be maximized to fund CAPE for many years to come.

Q:  Do you want to have a wife and kids someday?

A: This is a loaded question for someone only 20 years of age. Right now my life revolves around college, the Marines, and Cape. However, maybe down the road a significant other could creep into the equation.

Q:  Are you afraid of anything?

A: Great question. I have unconventional fears. Things like sharks, snakes, heights, even death do not scare me. However, my biggest fear is leaving this world without striving to make a positive difference. You only have one life to live and I believe one person can truly change the world.

Q: If you could explain what you find special & important about CAPE to someone who may have never heard of us before, what would you tell them?

A: I would explain to them how different CAPE is from anywhere else. We put no limits on what the kids can do, they all have the chance to go out and play the same sport everyone else does. CAPE truly shows that the limitations society associates with special needs children are simply wrong. The kids of CAPE amaze me every time I am with them. Through witnessing their growth, it debunks the perceived definition of their limitations. The only way to know this is to witness it for yourself.

Am I the only parent reading this that kept thinking, "What a neat young man!" I think it takes a terribly special young man/woman to volunteer their time, especially at a time when most people that age are far more concerned with themselves than giving to others. Our kids are definitely lucky to have a young man like Josh to share his time & his heart with them season after season!!

I'd like to give a BIG thank you to Josh for taking the time to do this interview!!  

By: Amanda R. Zill Morse