During the 2013 Toomey’s Kids Grant Luncheon at the Spring House in Murrells Inlet, 26 special education teachers in Horry and Georgetown counties received money to be used for their students
The teachers received checks totaling more than $20,000.
Ted Prehodka of Murrells Inlet, president of Toomey’s Kids, said that the group works with special education teachers and students in 33 classrooms in 23 schools throughout the school year.
“We cover quite a few kids,” he said. “We visit the classes all year long. We go in and see what they need. We’ve provided all kinds of things.”
Those things include an aquatic wheelchair given to Palmetto Bays Elementary that is used when the students go to the pool at Coastal Carolina University.
Ted’s wife, Pat Prehodka, is vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
“We just love working with these kids,” she said. “They are solid love. They give back so much love – it makes it a special joy to work with them.”
Toomey’s Kids is governed by a five-member board that includes Ted and Pat Prehodka, Diane Haddle, Paul Vallee and the newest member, Jennifer Ainsworth, a special education teacher at Socastee High School and the Horry County School District’s 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year.
Ted said that too much of the money the teachers get has to be used to pay the school districts for buses to take the students places, and that bothers him. He said he thinks the use of the buses should be included in the cost of their education.
“We’ve got to do everything we can for these children. They are wonderful children, wonderful people,” Ted Prehodka said.
Many of the trips they make have them doing things to improve their social skills, such as shopping, bagging groceries, making change, ordering food and other things, he said.
Ted Prehodka said that when he first got involved with the special education students, the cost of using the bus in Horry County was about .80 cents to .90 cents per mile. The cost is currently about $1.83 per mile, he said.
“The kids have to pay to have that bus, and that’s a lot of money. They should not charge that much for the bus,” he said.
In Georgetown County, the cost is even higher because they have to pay a bus driver, Prehodka said.
Toomey’s Kids sponsors several trips for the students annually. On Tuesday, a group of about 90 went fishing on the Garden City Pier. Today, another group of about 100 planned to be there. The groups include high school special education students, teachers, aides and volunteers.
Toomey’s Kids also takes the students bowling and other places. In December, they always go to Ripley’s Aquarium, where the students really enjoy seeing all of the Christmas trees, he said.
Toomey’s Kids became a 501c3 charitable organization in 2007 and operates on donations. This year, for the first time, they expect to receive some funding from United Way in both counties.
In the future, they are hoping to be able to begin working with more schools, Ted Prehodka said.
For more information or to donate to Toomey’s Kids, call 650-2887.
Contact PEGGY MISHOE at firstname.lastname@example.org or 365-3885.