Help a Child With Special Needs

Hello Friends,

Alexa Andersen is a gregarious, intelligent 11 year-old who loves Disneyland and has an enormous crush on Harry Potter. She spends her time with family and friends just like any other 11 year-old, but with one difference… Alexa, my daughter, has severe cerebral palsy (CP).

 Born prematurely at 28 weeks, Alexa was left with pervasive damage to her brain and we were told she would have CP. As the years passed and milestones were missed, we discovered that her disabilities were much more involved than we had hoped and that Alexa would not progress beyond the physical capabilities of a young child, restricted to a wheelchair. Today, Alexa has reached an age and maturity where she is aware that her disability is not going away, but she does not have to go through this alone. Along with her family support, Alexa’s therapists at United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC) help her look forward to a future of independence.

 Upon moving to Southern California I was uncertain where to turn to get the best care for my daughter. Like most parents of disabled children, I worried that I  wasn’t doing enough and that Alexa was missing out on opportunities and treatments. I knew there was more out there. After floundering between different options, one of Alexa’s therapists suggested we explore the myriad of services available at UCP-OC. I immediately enrolled Alexa into the physical therapy program at UCP-OC twice a week and finally found peace of mind. Raising a child with developmental disabilities can be an extremely isolating experience as a mother. A place like UCP-OC offers classes and options creating a community of support. I was not alone anymore.

 Since coming to UCP-OC there are no missing pieces, no fears of undiscovered opportunities and the future looks brighter. UCP-OC takes our concerns and dreams seriously while walking side by side with us through our journey towards a Life Without Limits…we have a lifetime partner.

I still get emotional when I think about the “what ifs”. What if we had not discovered UCP-OC and the abundant wealth of knowledge that they provide? Unfortunately, this is a reality for many families who cannot afford many services for their child. You can make a difference! You can help a child with special needs. What if we as a community strive together to help families and children live their lives with hope rather than without? With continued deep budget cuts on the horizon, UCP-OC can no longer rely on government support and must reach out to the community, loyal donors and families to ensure a future. This year I encourage you to give to UCP-OC. Together let’s help children like my daughter Alexa receive the help and therapy needed.

Alexa dreams of living in her own apartment in the Big Apple with a doorman and an elevator. She dreams of someday having children of her own. UCP-OC is helping my vivacious Alexa achieve her dreams one day at a time! I am giving back to UCP-OC this spring because of the difference the organization has made to our lives. I ask you to do the same. Every gift makes a difference! Thank you for your donation and for touching the life of a child.


Jane Andersen

To donate or find out how, please follow this link: Donate Now!


More Than Just a Sash and a Crown: Audience Award for Best Documentary

Sunday, May 1st was a beautiful day in Orange County, where the Newport Beach Film Festival premiered “Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America.” This documentary captures five women’s journey to the 2010 Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. The Ms. Wheelchair America contest has been around for 37 years educating and advocating for the more than 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike other beauty pageants, this is a contest that looks past mere beauty and looks at the heart, achievements and communication abilities of the contestants to find the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons without disabilities.  This film looks at the different women and how they push themselves past their limits and live a life of strength, courage, competition, love, intelligence all while being daring to take a chance. As the “Defining Beauty” states, it is “more than just a sash or a crown.”

After the film premiered, audience members were allowed the opportunity to ask the women starring in the film questions. Some highly regarded qualities of the film included the truth and the realness behind the women’s lives, as well as the dramatic and emotional pageant itself. The film received a warm welcome at the festival, receiving the Audience Award for Best Documentary!

After a very successful premier at the Newport Beach film festival, “Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America” will turn its wheels towards Atlanta’s “Taste of Beauty Weekend.” Defining Media LLC, the production company behind “Defining Beauty”, has partnered with Burton Blatt Institute of Atlanta to help raise funds for the film and for the support of children with disabilities across the country.

Help us spread the world about this movie and this beautiful story of women living their lives without limits!

You can view the trailer here:

For more information, please visit Defining Beauty’s:

Facebook page:‐BEAUTY/10839020811


The ladies were given the red carpet treatment when they arrived at the event. Here are some photosof the ladies!







Written by: Elizabeth Wylie