Cerebral Palsy Center of Knoxville asks for donations

Amid funding cuts, Cerebral Palsy Center of Knoxville asks for donations

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Callie Sisk has a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. She can't speak, but communicates with Rebekah Ritchie, a communications specialist, through a computer system on her wheelchair that she controls with her head. Callie Sisk has a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. She can't speak, but communicates with Rebekah Ritchie, a communications specialist, through a computer system on her wheelchair that she controls with her head.
"We really have made a very concerted effort to reduce everything possible so that we can still be here for people," said Cerebral Palsy Center Executive Director Bob Sexton. "We really have made a very concerted effort to reduce everything possible so that we can still be here for people," said Cerebral Palsy Center Executive Director Bob Sexton.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Cerebral Palsy Center of Knoxville is facing some major decisions after losing more than $400,000 in funding.

The center has been serving individuals in Knox County since 1954, but if they can't make up the budget shortfall or cut programs to make up the difference, they could be forced to close.

They're now asking for the public's help so they can stay open.

Callie Sisk has a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. She can't speak, but communicates with Rebekah Ritchie, a communications specialist, through a computer system on her wheelchair that she controls with her head.

"It she didn't have this, I would have no clue as to what she wants and what she needs," said Ritchie.

Sisk has been coming to the Cerebral Palsy Center for 13 years, training with Ritchie for the last two of them.

Sisk is one of more than 300 people with different levels of cerebral palsy, a type of brain damage, who receive care at the center.

They receive everything from therapy, to help finding jobs, to transportation to and from the center.

They even provide four residential facilities, called Supported Living for Adults, where they can live.

"We're serving people that really, each day, depend on us for their existence and to be a part of the community and to get up and get dressed and having something to eat and to have a place to live," said Cerebral Palsy Center Executive Director Bob Sexton.

Over the last five years, the tough economy has caused their funding to dwindle.

"Federal and state funds have been challenged and cut back," said Sexton.

Now a fourth of their annual budget is gone, and their services are in jeopardy.  

"Many of the people we serve seven days a week, 24 hours a day and they're extremely necessary for the individuals that we serve," said Sexton.

They've already cut employee's salaries and almost all of their benefits.

"We really have made a very concerted effort to reduce everything possible so that we can still be here for people," said Sexton.

But they've reached the end of the line, and are now asking for donations from the public.

If they close, clients like Callie Sisk could be institutionalized, which is something Sexton says could be detrimental to her progress.

The Cerebral Palsy Center already has another 60 people on a waiting list.

Of the $400,000 cut in funding, $300,000 is on the state and federal level. The other $100,000 is from private donations.

If you'd like to help, you can donate on the Center's website. For more information, call them at 865-523-0491.

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