Autism family holiday grants awarded to 6 Valley families - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Autism family holiday grants awarded to 6 Valley families

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

There was a special Christmas party for six Mahoning Valley families Wednesday night. 

The Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley presented this year's Mike Hull Memorial Family Mini-Grants. 

The awards were divided among several area families, all looking to improve the opportunity for their child or young adult to improve his or her physical health and wellness. 

One of the families was Michelle Givhan and her daughter Destiny.  "I was very surprised and I was very thankful because she deserved it a lot," said Givhan.

The party was hosted by Shane Nesbitt, owner of Mahoning Valley Lanes.  There was bowling, pizza and even a visit by Santa Claus.

"It's just been a win-win for us. For us it makes us feel good around the holidays and help the kids out and helps support causes that need to be supported in the Mahoning Valley," said Nesbitt.

Melissa Kalaman is the chair of the Mike Hull Memorial Fund and says they came up with this idea in 2014. The gifts brighten up the holidays for families who struggle with the costs of raising an autistic family member.

"We were able to get a trampoline, exercise bike, inside basketball game, two tablets with cases and Nintendo video game," said Kalaman.

The gifts are paid for thanks to proceeds raised from the annual Mike Hull Memorial Poker Run for Autism, which is held every August. Each year motorcyclists take part in the ride and large Chinese auction that follows in honor of Mike Hull, a beloved husband, father, brother and grandfather with a cherished granddaughter on the autism spectrum.

"The more support that we get, the more families we can help and that's what its all about, that's what we're here for, if we can't help each other, why are we here.," said Kalaman.

Help that couldn't come at a better time for the Givhan family.  "It will help to have like a nice Christmas for her because we can't do it all ourselves," Givhan said.

This was the 5th Annual Holiday Autism Family Gift Presentation and Bowling Party. Kalaman's goal is to one day have a party where every needy family receives a gift. 

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