Gina Rayfield and her daughter Gina, and the entire Rayfield family have
been involved with Abilities United as participants, donors and volunteers.
This is the speech given by Gina and Charlotte at the Abilities United Recognition event on April 25, 2013 

It’s always such an honor and a pleasure for Charlotte and I to get a chance to share our love and appreciation for AbilitiesUnited.  One word described how I feel about the agency and how it affected our family.  That word is Lifesaver.  Defined as:
1. One that saves a life.
2. One that provides help in a crisis or emergency
3. A life preserver shaped like a ring.
My lovely daughter Charlotte was born at 1 lb 11 oz at 29 weeks. She spent 10 weeks in NICU and was adored by all of the nurses and doctors.  We were extremely blessed because she progressed very well and had very few complications.  But once she came home, weighing just under 4 lbs my husband Mike and I were very anxious because we were new parents and we didn’t know how to help our daughter.  As a preemie her development was delayed and we struggled to find the resources to support her.  Some days it felt we were drowning in worry.
But, luckily when Charlotte was one, we were referred to the Early Intervention program at Abilities United.  And, once Charlotte entered the program, not only did Charlotte get the therapy she needed to thrive but our whole family immediately felt lifted up by the connections we made through the parent group and by the expertise of the staff.  It was if a life preserver had been thrown to all three of us.
Shortly after starting in the early intervention program Charlotte was introduced to the soothing warm water at the Betty Wright Swim Center.  There she received therapy and her muscles relaxed in the 90 degree pool. 
Our beautiful daughter Charlotte is now a very successful, outgoing young lady who has evolved into an active fundraiser for the organization.  Although she no longer needs Abilities United’s services she has grown into one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers and supporters.
Charlotte’s speech:
I just want to thank Abilities United for helping me become who I am today.  I am a freshman at Mid-Peninsula high school and enjoy reading, creative writing, art and music.
And, I dream of becoming a writer and teacher some day and I know that I will achieve my goals because of the support I received early on in my life. 

The following additional story is based on a 2013 interview with Gina and Charlotte Rayfield. Written by Bob Thomas. Edited by Gina Rayfield and Wendy Kuehnl

For Gina Rayfield and her charming daughter Charlotte, Abilities United has been a family affair.

The Rayfields first came to what is now Abilities United when Charlotte, who was born with cerebral palsy, was about a year old. “We were a family coming in, with a child born with a disability, and we didn’t really know how to support her,” says Gina. “At the beginning when you have that challenge, it can be daunting, and you feel alone. Abilities United is really a great place for people to come together; to get the support for the family, and to help the child excel and succeed as much as they can.”

Gina was so impressed with her experience at Abilities United that she became a volunteer, then a member of the Board of Directors for six years, and then continued to be involved with the annual Author’s Luncheon. “My favorite memory of Abilities United was having our family featured at the Authors Luncheon,” says Gina. “We presented a video of Charlotte, showing some of the amazing things she’s done and what a great person she is. Being on stage with her and sharing that moment was truly special.”

Charlotte today is a smart, vibrant, and impressive young lady. Now a 14-year old girl, she’s something of an ambassador for Abilities United, and supports fundraising activities via the Authors Luncheon and the Abilities United Aquathon. She uses a wheelchair, but this hasn’t stopped her from developing a passion for bi-skiing, and videos on youtube of her skiing [] reflect her joy on the slopes. She’s a young girl with great dreams – “I want to be a teacher and an author,” she says.

“I would encourage people to learn more about Abilities United,” says Gina. “It’s a vital part of the community, and the work they do is amazing and important.”

Here at Abilities United, we appreciate the kind words, and the great support. We couldn’t serve the community without wonderful supporters such as Gina and Charlotte.