Realtors bring Operation Sunshine to Stepping Stones

Jim Abele, of West Chester, Chief Operating Officer of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, presents a check for $4,000 to Sam Browne Allen of Loveland, Director of Programs and Operations at Stepping Stones.
The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors (CABR) brought their own sunshine to the picnic at the board’s Operation Sunshine, an over 40-year-old program that helps adults with disabilities in Greater Cincinnati.

Realtors from across Greater Cincinnati raise funds for the annual Operation Sunshine picnic that they host for adults with disabilities at Stepping Stones’ overnight recreation program at Camp Allyn in Batavia.

The picnic was only part of the sunshine. This year the group presented a check for $4,000 to help fund camperships, allowing more adults with disabilities to attend the Stepping Stones summer overnight camps and year-round respites.

This was the first year the Area Board of Realtors accepted on-line donations, which boosted the donation level, said Andy Clark of Norwood, CABR coordinator of the Operation Sunshine project.

Operation Sunshine started when Realtors supported campers with disabilities at Camp Marydale in Northern Kentucky in the 1970s.

The picnic moved to Stepping Stones’ Camp Allyn in the 1980s, where more than 250 adults with disabilities attend summer overnight recreation programs and year-round respites.

The project has always included a picnic and a donation to help people with disabilities.

Volunteers from the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors bring the food, set up the picnic and share the outdoor feast with participants in the Stepping Stones program.

“I’ve been coming to the picnic for the past three years and it’s just a joy,” said Clark. “I think get more out of it than they do. Once you get involved, you keep coming back.”

Clark said the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors has approximately 3,800 Realtor members. About 25% participate in Operation Sunshine.

Members are invited to donate through the year and the Realtors’ officer hold fund raising events to raise the funds for the picnic and donation.

“This is a wonderful event that we look forward to every year,” said Sam Browne Allen, director of programs and operations for Stepping Stones. “The Realtors are really bringing sunshine to our participants.”

Stepping Stones is a United Way partner agency serving children and adults with disabilities in seasonal and year-round programs including autism alternative education, summer camps, Saturday clubs for children and young adults, and respite programs.

Stepping Stones is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and serves close to 1,000 children and adults with disabilities annually.