Thank you for all the opportunities your hard work and dedication and VISION are providing for her (Shannen). She's a different girl than she was a month ago. We are crediting her involvement with this extraordinary college and exceptional teachers who truly care about her. God bless the work of your hands and the exciting dreams yet to be realized.
- Jenny, mother of Shannen
Paying it back.
- Richard Hermerding
After my experience at the Paypal facility, I felt I needed to express my appreciation for the positive force you are in the lives of those wonderful young people.
- Walt Coleman, Advisory Board
CAA is opening so many doors for them, it's magical; the possibilities are dazzling and endless.
- Laura C. - parent
The Showboaters and CAA speeches were amazing, just such a great day. Thank you or all your and Pam's dedication for this very much needed service for our adults with differing abilities.
- Neva, supporter
CAA provides opportunities to students of all abilities. I am so proud to be part of such a wonderful and inspiring organization.
- Loni Spratt, Board Member
About a year-and-a half ago, on her monthly visit to UCSF, my daughter Aine’s oncologist asked her how she was doing. She looked puzzled and asked what he meant. He said, “well…..your cancer.” She responded by saying, “Oh! You know, I really don’t have time for cancer anymore now that I’m going to the College of Adaptive Arts.” The doctor laughed out loud as this confirmed the very real success of the new drugs she was on but, for me, it was the Eureka moment when I knew the door had been opened on the rest of her life.
Aine was diagnosed as having a non-verbal learning disability when she was nine years old. She loves interacting with people but has difficulty understanding the nuances of speech and facial expressions. This made school very difficult and she wandered like a ghost on the periphery of the action. No one wanted to partner with her on a project and at recess she would walk from group to group trying to engage the other kids, but they usually ignored her. She walked to and from school by herself, went to dances by herself, and never got to just hang out with friends. With the help of some great teachers, she managed to graduate from high school, and began attending a local junior college.
As if she hadn’t enough challenges, when Aine was 16 and a sophomore in high school, she was diagnosed with Stage II melanoma, and had surgery. In less than a year, it had metastasized and progressed to Stage IV. However, because of her many medical appointments, coupled with side effects from her drugs, her attendance at college was sporadic and she was forced to drop out at the end of her first quarter. She spent a year just hanging out, dealing with her disease, and Facebook-watching her ex-classmates move on to the next exciting stage of their lives. She was lonely, sick, and the only direction her life seemed to be taking was towards a sad end until, (drum roll, please) a friend told us about the College of Adaptive Arts (CAA). The CAA is a performing arts college that caters to adults with differing abilities. Aine has always loved anything to do with theater – choir, acting, and dance but because of her social problems, she rarely took a leading role in any activity at school and, quite frankly, very few of her teachers encouraged her to do so. With the support and faith of her professors at CAA, she is now President of the Student Council and Manager-in-Training of their dance school. She steps out of her comfort zone and participates in sporting activities and art classes - things she wouldn’t have considered previously. She has non-judgmental friends and a real social life.
Aine is now entering her third cancer-free year on a clinical trial at UCSF. While I give thanks for the trial and I don’t, for one moment, take for granted the fact that the drugs are extending her life beyond all the statistics I try not to look at, the much bigger deal for us is how the quality of her life has improved since we discovered the College of Adaptive Arts. I don’t know how long my daughter’s life is going to be but I do know that, thanks to this awesome college, she is living to the fullest the life she was meant to live and, as her mom, this is the greatest gift I could ask for.
-- Mary Kline, Parent