As a young adult, traveling the country as a motivational speaker and musician, Jim Hukill drew satisfaction from knowing he was giving back. That was important to Hukill, whose muscular dystrophy had left him a quadriplegic, and who felt grateful for public services and community support he had received all his life.
All along, it was Hukill’s goal to someday give those with physical and intellectual disabilities a chance to do for others. And in 2007, he did just that.
That year, Hukill, 54, and his wife, Rhonette, launched an annual Christmas event called GiveBack. Gathering at the First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida, the Hukills and 100 volunteers – people with physical and intellectual disabilities and their families – filled 262 boxes of donated toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items and notes of encouragement for needy children in developing countries. The boxes were shipped out by the nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse as part of their Operation Christmas Child program.
“It was incredible to watch people with disabilities be able to move beyond that position of being a recipient of services to being empowered to do something for other people,” Hukill recalls. “One man with intellectual disabilities told us, ‘I’m working really hard, and I’m loving every minute of it!’ He was just so excited to be contributing.”
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