Michelle Basch, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus begins four days of shows in D.C. with a 10:30 a.m. performance Thursday.
Some very deserving people had a chance to see the show at Verizon Center before anyone else Wednesday night.
Easter Seals' "Bright Stars" event is a fundraiser that also provides free circus tickets to kids and adults with disabilities and their families.
Lisa Reeves, president and chief executive officer of Easter Seals Greater Washington-Baltimore region, describes it this way: "A spectacular, really fun, thrilling evening at the circus where they can forget everything else that might be going on in their life and just have a good time."
Stephanie Vogel and her husband Doug brought their 2-year-old twins. The girls, born three months early, have multiple medical issues.
On top of that, Doug is an active duty member of the military.
"He was called up for deployment and was gone for seven months at a time when I have doctor's appointments and have to go get medicine," says Stephanie Vogel. "And I need some sleep, and all those things that just come with two babies, let alone two babies with some special needs."
Through Easter Seals, the family now gets what's called respite care. A volunteer caregiver comes to their home to help the family so the primary caregivers can get a break.
"With the respite care I'm able to get the support and help with appointments (and) help when I just need some time," Stephanie Vogel says.
Marti Clark was born with Down syndrome and has been getting help from Easter Seals since she was just a few months old.
Now at age 18, Marti is working toward her high school diploma, her mother Fern Clark says.
The Vogels and the Clarks were among those who enjoyed free food, a meet-and-greet with clowns and a free circus performance.
In addition to helping kids and adults with disabilities, Easter Seals also provides services to wounded warriors, veterans and active duty military personnel.
"Easter Seals is working with the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and the Department of Labor. We are together able to accelerate services for wounded warriors, veterans and and military families to help those who have served our country receive the services they need," says Reeves.
"We are putting wounded warriors and veterans of all eras into careers and back into the workplace."
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