This year, Andrew’s Hugs donated $25,000 to Community Living’s Adult Recreation program. Andrew’s Hugs was created to keep the late Andrew Norton’s memory alive, and to raise money to ensure that everyone has a chance to enjoy life to the fullest.
Andrew was a huge sports fan and he was fortunate to have the means to pay for the events he participated in with the Adult Recreation program, but the family knows not everyone is as fortunate.
At CarShield Stadium, home of the River City Rascals, the crowd was a little larger and the smiles were a little bigger. “It’s nice that we still have the momentum and that we were not only able to give again but give more,” Julie Raguski, sister of Andrew, said. “We know Community Living uses the Rascals a lot to provide entertainment and fun for their members, so it’s great to come together in the community and show the community that this is what we are doing, as well as give more attention to Community Living.”
One of Andrew’s friends, Cathy, attended the Cardinals game in April. “The event being sponsored by Andrew’s Hugs allowed me to have fun and not have to worry about the cost of the event,” Cathy, member of the Adult Recreation program, said. “I don’t normally purchase food at the game, but I was able to do that thanks to his family.”
For the family, they love being able to give back, but the loss of Andrew will never get easy. “We miss him every day,” Cheri Norton, mother of Andrew, said. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about him, but we also know this was Andrew’s family, too (the members of Adult Recreation). We just want to give them what we wanted for Andrew. It makes you feel good that we are helping his friends and doing this in honor of him.”
As of today, the organization has raised $120,000 and has donated $110,000 to organizations that help people with disabilities. “It’s very visible and it’s exponentially spreading the hugs and the love,” Barb Griffith, president and CEO of Community Living, said. “What the family is doing helps keep Andrew’s memory alive, but it also goes to show what Andrew stood for – he wasn’t about himself, he was about everyone around him having joy in life. That’s what I see, sharing the joy and that’s what Andrew’s Hugs has been able to do by giving to different organizations in the community – we are exponentially sharing the joy.”
Last year’s donation of $20,000, has provided several opportunities to the individuals served in the program. “It’s allowed members who would usually not sign up for particular events, to sign up because they were free events,” Sharon Zull, Recreation Coordinator, said. “We cannot thank Andrew’s Hugs enough for all they have done and continue to do.”