A Step Ahead Pierce County (ASAPC) supports families of infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities by enhancing their development and relationships both at home and in their community. Serving thousands of children from Pierce County, ASAPC has never turned away a child in need of services because of an inability to pay.

Please join A Step Ahead Pierce County at the Silver Cloud Point Ruston on Saturday, October 23, for an evening of celebration with their 12th Annual Gala Auction, Casino for a Cause. This fabulous event features an auction, party bags, games, and more with both an in-person dinner gala and virtual options.

A Step Ahead Pierce County
Beautiful Nhyla Wallace, 2 years old. Photo courtesy: A Step Ahead Pierce County

ASAPC Demonstrating 20 Years of Service

A Step Ahead Pierce County first opened its doors in 2001 and reflects on 20 years of service at the 12th Annual Gala Auction. The last year and a half during a global pandemic have been truly trying on us all, and this time has brought on struggles, setbacks, and sometimes the loss of a clear pathway moving forward. However, despite all the shortcomings, ASAPC has worked alongside their families in securing access to essential services despite the challenges posed.

“The best practice is seeing clients within their natural environments,” says ASAPC Executive Director David Pozolinski. “When the pandemic struck, all of that changed. The families have been fundamental in successfully transitioning from entirely in-person visits to telehealth.”

When therapy sessions pivoted to remote and behind a camera, it posed unique challenges, with many falling on the families for resolution. Whether overcoming technology barriers or learning how to provide the hands-on activities required for therapy sessions, the families worked incredibly hard to demonstrate resilience time and time again.

“Parent coaching has been a critical aspect of this transition,” says Pozolinski. “Parents have had to be more actively involved now than ever before in therapy sessions that previously might have had lesser parental involvement.”

ASAPC providers worked diligently to teach parents ways for implementing the activities needed for therapy. Not only has this model shown to be highly effective, but it has also provided parents with additional tools to use with their children at home.

A Step Ahead Pierce County
Nhyla Wallace receives an in-home therapy session with ASAPC. Photo courtesy: A Step Ahead Pierce County

Showcasing Positive Ingenuity of Human Resiliency

Throughout these challenging times, families continued to show positive ingenuity and human resiliency across the board. The pandemic has been mentally and emotionally exhausting for everyone, with major life transitions and many sacrificing compromises made. These times have also shown the importance of community, neighbors, loved ones, and even the single impact a stranger can make. For ASAPC, they understand the vitality of all connections and the integral roles all these individuals play. The families ASAPC supports demonstrate the utmost resiliency and perseverance; even when the future is unknown.

ASAPC acknowledges one inspirational family featured at this year’s Gala. Meet the Wallaces, a wholesome family of four residing in Spanaway. John Wallace is an Army veteran, and Annissa Wallace works in community health. They have two children, Jaeda (7 years) and Nhyla (2 years). Nhyla was born at 39 weeks gestation due to pregnancy complications beginning in the first trimester and throughout the pregnancy. At one point, doctors suggested that the Wallaces consider terminating the pregnancy due to the arising complications. However, the family knew in their hearts this life deserved a chance and chose to proceed despite the risks.

Upon birth, Nhyla underwent multiple surgeries to correct several issues, including intestinal malrotation, a distended stomach, enlarged bladder and fluid around her kidneys. Nhyla was also diagnosed with a genetic disorder, gene mutation KCNMA-1.

Although recovery has been far from easy, the Wallace family continues to fight, none harder than Nhyla herself. A little girl so full of life despite the limitations, she is truly someone to look up to at the tender age of two. The Wallaces find strength in their daughter’s bubbly personality and continued growth. She fights hard, and the family is happy to support their daughter in the best way possible. ASAPC is proud to highlight this family for their remarkable demonstration of resiliency and perseverance. 

A Step Ahead Pierce County
Nhyla Wallace is in good spirits with her stuffed animal as she receives treatment. Photo courtesy: A Step Ahead Pierce County

Sunset Auto Family’s Commitment to Social & Community Responsibility

ASAPC is so grateful to partner with Gala sponsor Sunset Auto Family, and for owner Phil Mitchell, the decision to commit to social and community responsibility comes naturally. He ultimately wants to give back to the community, families, and especially our youth that inspire the future.

“Our children attend the same schools, go to the same stores and restaurants, and are just as much of the community as anyone,” says Mitchell. “Sunset Auto has adopted the stance of treating the community like family because we would not be where we are today without it. Backing the community and having their support is something we should never take for granted.”

Purchase your tickets today for an inspirational and unforgettable evening with A Step Ahead in Pierce County on Saturday, October 23. The 12th Annual Gala Auction will be nothing short of fantastic, showing support for the local community and all the families who worked so hard during some of the most unforeseen, challenging times. Please join the celebration of resiliency and dedication towards the greater good of the community right in the heart of Tacoma, honoring ASAPC’s 20 years of service.


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