A day just for siblings of kids with disabilities, West Bend Noon Rotary assists with fishing event at Blue Lotus Farm
TOWN OF TRENTON – A farm and retreat center typically used by people with profound life challenges took on a different role when the siblings of children with disabilities enjoyed the facility on their own.
The first-time event at Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center, 5501 Highway M, was supported by a district grant from the West Bend Noon Rotary and assisted by Rotarians who spent the day fishing, playing, and enjoying nature in one-on-one and small group collaborations with about 30 children.
 
“We could not be more pleased with how it worked out and are already planning to invite them back again,” said Kari Kempka, executive director.
Siblings of children with challenges have been invited to accompany their families to Blue Lotus in the past. However, their activities and schedules are often controlled by their siblings’ medical needs, said David Slinde, a Rotarian and member of the Blue Lotus Board of Directors.
 
“This day is for the siblings, which makes it special for them,” he said. “They decide what they want to do and how they want to spend the day. Typically they come and go based on how their brothers or sisters are feeling.”
The partnership was an exciting opportunity for Rotarians, said Joel Herriges, club president.
 
“We wanted to do more than provide funds,” he said. “We wanted our members to have boots on the ground. By being out here, we interact with the kids and assist a great program. This is all about collaboration.”
The only one who was not initially cooperative was Mother Nature, Kempka said. The event was originally scheduled for last October, but was postponed due to cold weather. A second attempt earlier this year was also cancelled due to inclement weather. Finally, on May 4, the weather was wonderful and spirits were high.
 
“It’s an awesome reminder about what it’s like to be a kid,” Herriges said.
 
Helping out and being part of the day is very rewarding, said Amanda Follett.
 
“We are happy to give back whenever we can,” she said.
 
Blue Lotus serves more than 3,500 people each year with a staff of one full-time and three part-time employees. Volunteer opportunities are abundant for anyone who would like to help, Kempka said. For more information, visit
www.bluelotusfarm.org.
 
West Bend Noon Rotary meets at noon every Monday at Krimmer’s.
 
Guests are welcome. The group’s primary fundraiser —Comedy Night — will be held on May 31, at the Washington County Fair Park.
 
For additional information, visit www.rotaryclubofwestbend.org.