WAXAHACHIE —Back by popular demand, the Bridges Training Foundation is hosting its second annual “BBQ, Band, and Brew Bash” to help support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities this Saturday, Sept. 30.

“It’s going to be perfect and awesome,” expressed MeLissa Boler, President of Bridges Training Foundation LLC. “It’s an all-day, come-and-go event and we want the community to come out and see what we’re about, and see that we’re a great organization with great people.”

Silent auctions, raffle and door prizes, bounce houses, and a professional barbeque cook-off is just the beginning of the festivities, Boler described.

“We’ve got a kids zone with a petting zoo, face painting, Toys-R-Us is coming out and do a kids workshop, and then there’s a car show - it’s just going to be a great time,” Boler listed.

Live music will also be supplied by a variety of bands, ranging in song genres that include the Derek Lee Band, Lost Grey, Two Fold Gypsy, and Random Blue.

“One thing we’re doing this year that’s really, really cool and I’m super excited about is called a ‘Cupcake War,’” Boler described the new competition. “It’s the first-ever Ellis County Cupcake War.”

In a cupcake contest for those who love to bake, Boler explained that participants will have to donate 12 cupcakes to the foundation’s bake sale, decorate one beautiful cupcake for display, and provide 50 sample sizes for the audience judges.

“We have three different categories to see who does the best,” Boler articulated. “And we’re selling tickets to be a judge. So for $20, you’ll get a free t-shirt from the bash, and you get to judge the people who enter the cupcake contest. So it’s going to be a really good time!”

Boler also notes that the money from the bake sale will go towards the Foundation’s students ‘ outings through the year.

As for the volunteer-run nonprofit, this year's finances from the fundraiser will primarily go towards helping individuals with disabilities reach their educational, social service, and occupational goals through preparation training. And as Boler emphasized, it’s a “cost-intensive” task.

“I don’t think people really understand how hard it is for an individual with a disability once they leave high school,” Boler began. “Doing what we do is very cost-intensive, that’s why we use a lot of volunteers.”

“For example, a big portion of what Bridge’s tries to do is get our guys on jobs. And what that may look like is, we may put in a hundred hours of manpower into one individual to get them up and working and staying on that job consistently as a career, even if it’s only an entry-level job,” she expounded.

In a Special Olympics survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Boston, only 44 percent of intellectually disabled adults are currently in the labor force, either employed or looking for work, while just 34 percent are working.

It goes on to compare that statistic with the 83 percent of non-disabled, working-age adults that are currently in the workforce.

“So it’s very cost-intensive to work with this population, so we fundraise, we do grants, and that’s one reason we do this barbeque bash - to raise community awareness,” Boler recognized. “People need to understand that we’re here and that the diversity of individuals is everywhere in the workplace.”

Boler goes on to also thank her sponsors that include Whataburger, Stage Volume Entertainment, Action Fire Pros, G.A.W. Construction, Texas Chili, Vava Inc., and Midlothian Classis Wheels for making Saturday’s event possible.

“That’s one thing about the Ellis County community – they are so supportive of what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Boler acknowledged. “So come out and enjoy yourself, and really understand that we’re apart of this community too.”

“So come on out and have some fun with us,” she finished.

The “BBQ, Band, and Brew Bash” is scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Ellis County Expo Center on 2300 West Highway Bypass, Waxahachie. Admission is free. The Classic Car show will be on display from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. For more information, visit bridgestf.org or call (817)-996-8793.


Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer