Fern Rudd, like any parent, wants to ensure her child’s future is secure – even long after she’s around to see his life unfold.
Her son, Devon Thompson, is a 26-year-old Special Olympics Southern California athlete in the Inland Empire region. He grew up with limited language and verbal skills.
It wasn’t until Devon started bowling when Fern took notice of an improved sociable side to her son. She credits the start of the transformation to a Special Olympics volunteer at Palm Springs Lanes who took the time to teach Devon the sport.
“Devon finally grasped what the game was all about,” Fern recalled. “Before that, he would toss the ball, turn around, and be distracted or go do something else. He didn’t have any social skills, in terms of participating with the other players in the game.
“This gentleman was a volunteer with Special Olympics, and he spent a great deal of time helping Devon focus and encouraging him. It finally clicked for [Devon] that this was a fun thing to do, and over the years, he started really looking forward to it.”
Devon has since delved into basketball, bocce, golf and swimming, but bowling remains his favorite sport.
Beyond the competitions, Devon also has enjoyed the simple aspects, such as the travel and camaraderie with his fellow athletes.
“This is a kid that was impaired as a young child, and he’s really blossomed with it,” Fern said.
It’s those moments, and the overall impact Special Olympics Southern California has had on Devon’s “quality of life,” that convinced Fern to return the favor to the organization.
Earlier this year, at the advice of her attorney, Fern began looking into the benefits of a special needs trust. The trust will assist Devon financially throughout his life, particularly ensuring that his government benefits remain protected.
If there is any money remaining in the trust whenever Devon passes away, it would be distributed to a designated beneficiary. When Fern’s attorney asked about picking a designated beneficiary, she initially thought it was simply too early to be thinking that far ahead.
Eventually, all of the memories Devon has experienced to this point in his 20 years with Special Olympics Southern California made the choice easy for Fern.
Living in the Desert area, she knows how tough it can be for other families caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities to find all the necessary resources. That’s why Fern specifically designated Special Olympics Southern California’s desert area as the beneficiary of Devon’s special needs trust, so that any remaining funds can be used for programming needs in the area.
“Special Olympics has been extremely therapeutic for him, in terms of helping him master social skills and interacting with others,” Fern said. “It’s just something that he really enjoys; it makes his life more rewarding to be able to participate.
“I’m very grateful to all the volunteers and all the people working with Special Olympics. It’s not just one volunteer in one location, it’s a whole organization that has to be really in-tune with what needs to be done to help kids like my son.”
We thank Fern for sharing this inspirational story of Devon’s life changing involvement with Special Olympics. In years to come, residual funds from Devon’s special needs trust will allow for more lives to be positively impacted by Special Olympics, where Devon “blossomed” through interactions with his friends and coaches.
Any individual can create a legacy gift like Fern has, by naming a charity on the beneficiary form of a savings, checking, or pension account or by remembering a charity in a will or living trust.
All of these forms of legacy giving demonstrate a powerful and meaningful way for individuals to create a philanthropic legacy. For more information on how you can help support Special Olympics Southern California, please contact Michele Latimer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 562.502.1130.