Stepping Stones is searching for ‘family’ to return May 18

Theresa Ciampone of Anderson Township reviews vintage photos and news stories for the Stepping Stones 50th Anniversary Reunion on May 18.
Stepping Stones is celebrating its 50th birthday with a party on May 18, and it could be tough finding someone who is not invited.

The United Way agency was Greater Cincinnati’s first summer day camp for children with disabilities and has grown to a $3.5 million agency serving children and adults with disabilities, providing recreational and educational programs at sites in Indian Hill and at Camp Allyn in Batavia.

The party is a reunion picnic at the Indian Hill site for anyone who has ever been touched by the agency. That includes thousands of volunteers, participants, staff, board members and supporters.

Stepping Stones is searching for their extended “family” members.

“We’re inviting people to come back, re-connect with old friends and see why we’re so proud of our past and so excited about our future,” said Theresa Ciampone, of Anderson Township, special events coordinator who is planning the reunion.

The free event runs noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the 23-acre Stepping Stones site, 5650 Given Rd., Indian Hill, 45243. It includes fishing, boating, crafts, a DJ and picnic fare. Guests can enjoy a timeline of photos documenting five decades. A short program is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Stepping Stones’ alums and friends can RSVP at

“We need to get a food count,” said Ciampone. “Even if you can’t come, you can post a memory on the site.”

Stepping Stones serves close to 1,000 people with disabilities each year and welcomes more than 1,500 volunteers annually.

Stepping Stones Executive Director Chris Adams of Terrace Park will join board president John McIlwraith of Indian Hill to welcome guests at the reunion.

“The key to Stepping Stones’ success has always been the people who made the needs of children and adults with disabilities their top priority,” said Adams.

Over 50 years, that passion to serve people with disabilities has had a community-wide effect.

“A lot of teens start out volunteering as something to do over the summer, but this place opens their eyes to a whole new world,” said Sam Browne Allen, director of programs and operations for Stepping Stones.

“They see they can really make a difference. A lot of people have found their vocation here. Stepping Stones volunteers and staff have gone on to become doctors, attorneys, therapists, nurses, school administrators and intervention specialists,” said Allen.

Allen was a Stepping Stones volunteer and staff member who later directed the City of Cincinnati’s Recreation Programs for Special Populations for 11 years before returning to Stepping Stones.

RSVP to or call Theresa Ciampone or Laura Haley, (513) 965-5103.