Radiothon at Sunrise Bakery kicks off 44th annual Schwartz Center fundraiser
Wareham resident Jaidan Joia is helping his school raise funds — in Dartmouth.
The fifteen-year-old hosted a Fun 107 Radiothon fundraiser at Sunrise Bakery in South Dartmouth on January 24 for his Dartmouth-based school.
Joia enjoys playing ball, watching Spongebob, and long car rides when he’s not attending the Schwartz Center at Meeting Street off Old Westport Road.
He has gone to the school — a special education center for students ages 3 to 22 with disabilities and complex medical needs — since he was one year old.
Joia has a seizure disorder that has left him non-verbal. But for the Radiothon, said his mother Janet, his teachers helped him communicate with the radio hosts.
“He communicates with a pad at school,” Janet explained. “Like, they’ll show him things that he wants, like a book or a ball...And he chooses. He knows what he wants to do.”
The Radiothon is a prelude to the school’s 44th annual Telethon fundraiser, which takes place on January 25 in Providence, and which Joia will also help host.
Friday’s event was held at Sunrise Bakery from 5 to 10 a.m. Regular customers and radio listeners came flocking to donate.
And half of the proceeds made by the bakery on the day go to the school.
“When we got here, it was packed,” said Janet, who added that she loves the Center.
“I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I can’t say enough. It’s been a great school for Jaidan. He gets all his services there.”
“The whole school knows him,” Janet continued. “It’s like a community, it’s not just a school.”
Joia’s mother said she wished people would donate even when there isn’t a telethon going on.
“It’s not just special needs kids, they service other kids too,” she said. “They’re an all-inclusive school.”
“They don’t make you feel like your child is handicapped or anything,” she added. “They treat him like any other child. It’s like a regular school. They do proms, they do graduations. They do school trips. Everything.”
And this year’s Radiothon, which has accompanied the telethon for the past four years, went off without a hitch.
“It was incredible,” said Meeting Street Grants Officer Lori Sousa. “This was my first Radiothon. It’s overwhelming. There were so many people here, and it was just wonderful to see the community turnout.”
“We had people who were here just to get their coffee literally just hand us money out of the blue,” added Executive Director of Meeting Street’s Massachusetts campus Michael Cancilliere. “And Manny and Ines, the owners here, are amazing. They’re so accommodating.”
As for Saturday’s telethon, Janet said with a smile, Jaidan’s “as excited as could be.”