ST. LOUIS – The train station from 1894 is taking children on an underwater adventure.
The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station and their non-profit foundation welcomed families from Variety the Children’s Charity Thursday morning.
For her first time to the aquarium, Autumn Kunzweiler said “I wanted to come here to see the fish.”
“She’s been asking to go fishing and we can’t really take autumn around water unless it’s a real safe environment,” says Ron Kunzweiler, Autumn’s father. “The aquarium was something she could come see fish.”
For Joseph, a double lower-limb amputee since six weeks of age, going to the aquarium was a chance to try out his new prosthetic legs.
Variety helps empower children with special needs by providing access to medical equipment, therapy, and innovative programs.
“This is something like the third or fourth set he’s had,” says Veonna Suttles, Joseph’s mother. “He got his first set at ten months thanks to Variety. They make sure he has all the therapy he needs as well as equipment; we are a very happy Variety family.”
The St. Louis Aquarium Foundation donated tickets to Variety families Thursday.
“There’s been a lot of isolation, especially with kids with special needs,” says Brian Roy, Variety executive director. “If there’s a way to safely come out on a day when there’s not a lot of folks here and all the precautions the aquarium is taking, we’re able to offer families if they feel comfortable and safe to come out and see the aquarium, which is amazing.”
“Providing free aquarium admission to individuals from under-resourced communities is really at the heart of our mission,” says Diane Bauhof, executive director of The St. Louis Aquarium Foundation. “This aquarium is here now in downtown St. Louis and we want to make sure everybody has the opportunity to visit and learn about our local waterways and why they’re so important.”
“This is huge that Variety gives us this option because of all his medical needs and therapy needs, funds are very limited,” says Suttles. “I don’t think people understand his first set of legs is $30,000. Without Variety, I couldn’t afford our deductible.”