July 2022
In this issue: 'Bleeding purple' . . . Stakeholders respond . . . ADA now 32
Special Olympics dream realized with USA Games gold medals
After 13 years of local and statewide competitions, one western Wisconsin Special Olympics athlete finally realized her dream of competing at the national level and proudly came away with a pair of gold medals in track and field events.

Briana Larson, a resident of Plum City and ProAct participant in Red Wing, was one of 65 athletes and unified partners from her state chosen to compete in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Fla. Prior to their selection, athletes were required to participate in a training camp to qualify. In addition to athletic ability, competitors also met requirements in social interaction and team-building skills. -more-
More gold, bronze for Minn. Summer Games
A six-sport Special Olympics competitor and adaptive cheerleader, Drew Danisch brought home two gold medals and two bronze in the Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games in June.

Top honors for gold came in the 25- and 50-meter dashes as part of the track and field events held at Stillwater High School. His mother, Christy Danisch, said her son has been a competitor since he was nine or 10 years old. He also participates in alpine skiing, bocce ball, bowling, swimming and tennis.

“Special Olympics not only helps him work on being an athlete, it allows him opportunities to socialize and make new friends,” said his mother. Practices happen two or more times per week. -more-
'Bleeding purple'
More details have emerged from ProAct’s visit to the Minnesota Vikings Museum in Eagan, an unusual gathering that engaged participants and staff from three locations.

“Thanks to the amazing teamwork and coordination of ProAct staff from all sites, participants were able to meet new people and make new friends while sharing what it means to be a beloved Minnesota Vikings fan!” said Senior Program Manager Stephanie Osman. The groups toured together.

The museum staff were very accommodating, said Osman, and participants had fun with the interactive exhibits, checking out a real player helmet and a souvenir football. One favorite was placing their hands on different footballs with actual cut-out hand-prints of past and present Vikings football players. Osman said the tour had everyone shouting, “Skol!” and preparing for football season.
By the numbers | June 2022
  • 710 participants served
  • 46,069 hours of service
Measuring impacts, ProAct surveys stakeholders
Pats on the back for work well done and helpful feedback on what can be improved were both welcomed results of ProAct’s 2022 surveys of stakeholders and employers.

Program development, facilitation and safety were strong points, as was communication, during a period where there were multiple restrictions and barriers brought on by the pandemic, explains ProAct VP Kim Feller.

Topping the stakeholder ratings were ProAct’s communication efforts, with 90 percent of respondents saying they were consistent. A full 88 percent of those surveyed said the nonprofit’s services fit the needs, desires and interests of those it serves and 87 percent reported total satisfaction with ProAct’s services. -more-
Connect with us on social media
Staff spotlight: Red Wing DSP
Each month ProAct in Red Wing highlights a Day Support Services staff member. For July, leaders would like to introduce readers to direct service professional Aja Garza.
Where did you grow up? Florida

What is your favorite football team?
I don’t really like sports but I’d have to say the Florida Gators.

What is your favorite TV show? I don’t watch much TV so I don’t have a favorite.

Where do you live? Red Wing

How many children do you have? One daughter

Do you like to swim? Yes

What is your favorite food? Spicy, Hispanic foods

Do you like squash? Yes – acorn squash with butter and brown sugar.

What sub do you order at Subway? The Steak sub, but I just had the new garlic sub and that was good, too.
Correction: Last month's Staff spotlight featuring Natalie Newhart incorrectly indicated that she is with ProAct in Shakopee, but she is employed in Red Wing. ProAct regrets this error.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
ADA Awareness Day July 26, civil rights, opportunities extended
July 26 marked 32 years since the passing of federal legislation prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities! ProAct celebrates the passing of this legislation and thanks its staff for committing to the work they do every day for individuals with disabilities. -more-
Help us to continue our life-changing work
ProAct wants to continue to provide the best services possible, and for its participants and teams to do so, the nonprofit is looking for the most qualified job applicants! If you, or anyone you know is looking for either full- or part-time employment in the human services field, please view our open positions. -read letter-
Enrichment program highlights for June
Fishing, splash pad, huge candy store
From trips with "Lets Go Fishing," to a cool splash pad at a local park, Minnesota's Largest Candy Store and Feed My Starving Children, ProAct participants and staff in Shakopee are having summer fun in more ways than one. -more-
Hudson's 'Unity in the Community' does wildlife education park
ProAct in Hudson’s “Unity in the Community” group took a special trip to Fawn-Doe-Rosa Wildlife Educational Park in St. Croix Falls, Wis. Participants experienced a unique opportunity to walk amongst the wildlife and had fun feeding the animals treats. They enjoyed meeting different animals such as chickens, bunnies, a turkey, deer, llamas, alpacas, and goats.

Staff said it was exciting as the group relaxed on the lawn right next to a doe that was relaxing too. The animals were delighted to have guests and very comfortable being around people. Participants and staff were especially drawn to the baby animals, specifically the kids (baby goats). The babies were very curious about the ProAct group as well. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful, hands-on experience.
Race car visit, RAD Zoo, musicians return, more in Red Wing
A family connection rolled into ProAct in Red Wing for a race car visit. Colin Wittenberg, son of ProAct Case Coordinator Angie Wittenberg, got into racing at age 16.
The RAD Zoo was at the public library in Red Wing in June as part of its Summer Series. ProAct participants and staff learned about reptiles and saw a Gecko, a lizard and snakes. People petted a snake and a turtle.-more-
Red Wing reveled in the musical talents of Aja Garza’s dad and aunt, Pat Garza and Sandra Hovde. “They graciously volunteer their time and we really enjoy listening to them,” said Case Coordinator Gloria Solsaa. -more-
Eagan gardens 'a bloomin' with classes, revamped beds
ProAct participants in Eagan are exercising their green thumbs in gardening classes every Tuesday and Friday morning, and what a site it is to see how everything is successfully blooming, said Senior Program Manager Stephanie Osman.

Gardening beds were revamped, and two new raised beds were acquired to bring back one of the more popular activities. Thanks to the hard work and dedication from participants and direct service professionals, Robin Smith and John Brown, the flowers, herbs and veggies are thriving, Osman explained.
ProAct, Inc. | 651-686-0405 | proactinc.org