Ability 2 Believe is a labor of love

Hastings foundation hosting Wine & Beer Tastings Event Feb. 22


Ability 2 Believe is a true labor of love for a Hastings family.

Ashley Bettis-Carl worked for two years to get Ability 2 Believe – The Brayden and Brooks Foundation off the ground, and it’s hard at work helping individuals with special needs.

A2B received its non-profit legal status late last year and is already partnering with Special Olympics and Hastings Community Education to bring an adaptive sports camp to Hastings that is held each Tuesday night.

A2B is hosting a Wine & Beer Tastings Event Thursday, Feb. 22 at Hastings Public House, 2015 Westview Dr. featuring wine and beer tastings, appetizers, silent auctions and raffles from 6:30-9 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Public House and Coborn’s Liquor. Tickets are $45 per person if purchased in advance at www.ability2believe.org or $55 at the door. Tickets are also available at the Public House or at the Busted Nut Bar and Grill, 118 2nd St. All proceeds will help with programming to support individuals with special needs.

Bettis-Carl said the genesis of A2B was to help provide experiences for individuals with special needs.

“I have twin boys, one with autism. He’s mostly non-speaking with an array of sensory issues. I realized early on that it wasn’t very easy to get servicing or programming in a timely manner for Brayden,” she said. “Also, there is a lack of programs offering one on one care, so I really want to create something where I could offer that type of care with different programming for kids and adults with special needs. I found with Brayden being on the more severe side of the spectrum, I could never find anything to bring him to where he could go that I could leave him. He has always needed one-on-one care. In a lot of programs, they require the individual to follow along in a group independently, be able to communicate and express basic needs, and are able to use the restroom on their own, all things my son is not able to do. That was my main initiative of wanting to get Ability 2 Believe started.”

Ability 2 Believe is meant to fill a needed gap in the community.

“I just wanted to bring something more to our community that wasn’t there. I really wanted to bring in some different programs and experiences to the special needs community,” said Bettis-Carl.

In the current program, special needs kids in kindergarten through fourth grade can take part in the adaptive sports camp held Tuesday nights at McAuliffe Elementary.

“It has been going great. We are in the process right now of figuring out when we will do another session. In the summer we will be offering a summer activity camp that will be held at McAuliffe as well. In the summer camp we will be doing different activities, games, and participating in new experiences. The kids will be able to be dropped off as well, giving caregivers a break while feeling confident their child is being taken care of with one-on-one care.” said Bettis-Carl.

There are big plans for the future.

“Our goal is to build our own facility within the next few years, a place where we can hold our sports programs, camps, provide services, and provide a community for special needs individuals. We would like to have the facility be a place of employment in different areas for adults with disabilities.” she said.

Ability 2 Believe alongside Hope Field House, and Fraser will be hosting Super Fest, a sensory friendly event on April 19th at US Bank Stadium in partnership with the Minnesota Vikings and Concordia College.

“This will be amazing. It’s going to be a night full of fun, football, and cheerleading for kids and adults with disabilities,” she said.

The Hastings community has been very supportive, with volunteers stepping forward to help.

“As we start to grow, adding volunteers will be another task we’ll take on. We have been very fortunate to have so many people reach out wanting to be a part of Ability 2 Believe by volunteering – teachers, parents, and other community members. We’ve been pretty blessed thus far” Carl-Bettis said.

It’s fun for the foundation to see its planning take off.

“I started the Rally for Autism event in 2019, an event bringing the community together with an afternoon of fun, raffles, kid’s activities, silent auctions, etc. All the proceeds went to Fraser. Starting this event is what led me to push forward to create my own non-profit to bridge the gap in our own community. Fast forward 4 years later and here we are. Coming up with our name was a little more challenging as we wanted it to be something impactful but knowing what our goals, vision, and mission would be was easy.” Bettis-Carl said.

What’s even more cool is seeing the kids in the programming with smiles on their faces.

“The kids are having a blast. It’s fun to see all the kids work together and cheer each other on in the sports camp. It’ll be fun to see how they can collaborate alongside their own peers moving forward as well. It’s one of our big missions to have them explore the community alongside their own peers, not trying to make them change for everybody else but keep them exactly who they are while exploring new things,” said Bettis-Carl. “They’re constantly having to adapt to our world. We want to make sure that within our program, they aren’t having to adapt to the world, that we can adapt to them.”

A2B knows that the Hastings community is behind their efforts.

“The community has been so supportive. With doing the Rally for Autism for years now we have had such great community support” she said.

This event is hosted every fall at Dugarel’s Bar and Grill.

“Every year it gets bigger and better,” she said.

It’s an incredible cause, and Bettis-Carl said the organization is excited about the Wine & Beer Tasting event.

“The Hastings Public House and Coborn’s have just been amazing to work with,” she said.

There will be 50 different wines to sample and plenty of unique beers to taste.

“It should be a really fun night,” Bettis-Carl said.

Proceeds from the event will help fund A2B programs as well as help provide two scholarships this year, one to a student with a disability and another to a student going into education.

If you can’t make the event, you can still donate to A2B on their website, www.ability2believe.org.