Incredible things happen when you ask

by Jen Lee Reeves on March 13, 2012 · 10 comments

in 2012, SXSW

Yesterday was finally the day for me to host a panel brainstorm at SXSW in Austin, TX. Thanks to your support and the love of many, Kate Canterbury (also known as @guavalicious) and Robert Rummel-Hudson (who wrote the book Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey with his Wordless Daughter) joined me to discuss what can be done in the tech community to help better unify and support the special needs parenting community.

The conversation was intimate in size but huge in its scope. Leading up to the session, Kate and I decided we should launch a website called Special Need Tech. Our vision is to create a place where we can share therapeutic and advocacy information for all special needs parents – no silos welcomed. We want to offer information that can help any an all parents. Therapeutic videos? Sure! Information on applications, software and devices? Heck yeah!

And then something magical happened during our brainstorm session. We had discussed in the room about how so many great consumer-grade technologies can help kids, but healthcare won’t pay for these tools. My friend, Jill Krause from Baby Rabies asked a fabulous question: So many of us are upgrading our iPhones. What could happen if iPhone owners donated their old devices to distribute to families who have kids who could benefit from the awesome iPhone/iPad apps that encourage learning and therapy?

We loved the idea. So after the session, we went into the SXSW expo floor to learn about all kinds of new stuff. We kept talking about our brainstorm to every person we met. That’s when a piece of magic happened. A person I bumped into many times during this conference, Gerald Rich, offered his old iPhone 3GS. He just happened to have it with him and he gave it to me… This is happening before we’ve even been able to officially launch this idea. Incredible. I have another friend who says they may be able to give me two more. I haven’t even figured out how we’ll make this happen but I know we have some steps that need to be taken:

  • It’s time to create a foundation. I’ve talked about it but I haven’t made the jump. Now is the time.
    I need to encourage any and everyone to join in this effort to unify the special needs parenting world with tech tools. If you are interested, please share your thoughts at
    I need to rest for a few days. With the emotional loss of my mother-in-law followed by this intense conference, I need a few days to regroup. Please bear with me for a little bit while I try to catch up.

This is exciting and I hope we really can make this vision a reality.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Swiney March 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I have an iPhone for you.

Catrina Byrge March 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I just found this post from one of Rob’s tweets. This is an amazing idea! I am a grandmother of an 8 month old granddaughter who has polymicrogyria (PMG) like Schuyler has. Anyway we recently started our organization and we would l0ve to add your foundation on our Resources page when you are ready.
What you are doing is SOOO needed!

Catrina Byrge, President
PMG Awareness Organization, Inc.

Julia Roberts March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

This sounds terrific Jen! Congratulations to you, Rob and Kate! Support for Special Needs is so proud to have helped support it by helping sponsor one of your passes!

Jen Lee Reeves March 16, 2012 at 12:38 am

You rock my world.

Lisa March 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

I just got an iphone but I’d happily send it to a foundation when it’s time to get a new one. Plus, I’d happily promote it for you!

Jen Lee Reeves March 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Thank you SO much Lisa!

Jen Lee Reeves March 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

Thanks so much Catrina. We’ll certainly make sure your organization is included! I appreciate your suport.

Catrina Byrge December 2, 2012 at 11:28 am

Hi Jen,

I just came back across this article and wondered how you are faring with your foundation plans? I really think it’s an incredible idea and just wanted to offer some words of encouragement. Starting a nonprofit is a daunting challenge, but oh SO worth it! Please let me know if you need anything.

Jen Lee Reeves December 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Hi Catrina, thanks so much for checking in on me. Yes, you’re right. It’s super daunting. I am currently recruiting a board and saving money to pay for the legal fees. I remain committed to this… and it’s partially why I started looking for a new job. I started my new job a month ago and once I get settled in, I plan to push harder toward this goal!

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