Family and friends celebrate at Any Baby Can's Fiesta while wearing "Keep calm, it's only autism" shirts. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.

Raising a child always presents difficult challenges, but when that child suffers from a serious illness, disability, or developmental delay, those challenges can expand exponentially. Without the right network of service and support, the world can quickly become an overwhelming place for both child and family. Since 1982, Any Baby Can has provided the necessary assistance to help children and families in the greater San Antonio area navigate the complexities of living with special needs.

The core of Any Baby Can’s services is its case management program. The agency’s case workers, most of whom have a background in social work, serve as the single point of contact for families in need of assistance.

“Our case workers act as the hub of a wheel, providing referrals to programs both inside and outside the agency, depending on the clients’ needs,” said Any Baby Can CEO Dawn Dixon.

On any given day, those needs can range from helping with medical issues, such as finding a physician or handling insurance paperwork, to offering educational assistance for school-age children, to providing emotional support for grieving families who have lost a child.

"Rudy's Heros" gather during Any Baby Can's Walk for Autism. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.
Rudy’s Heros” gather during Any Baby Can’s Walk for Autism. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.

For one family, an Any Baby Can case manager has proven to be a lifeline. Cheryl Perkins is the primary caretaker for her three grandchildren: two year-old Journii, and six month-old twins Catreyal and Camille. The twins were born three months prematurely and stayed in the hospital for several weeks due to health complications. During this time, Perkins was receiving no assistance with the children until she happened to see a television news report about Any Baby Can. She looked up the agency online, sent them an email explaining her situation, and received a phone call within an hour.

That fateful call put Perkins in touch with case manager, Annette Centeno, who quickly responded to the family’s immediate needs by providing necessities such as food and clothing.

She organized holiday assistance and counseling support for Perkins and her grandchildren, and also referred Perkins to outside agencies, such as Early Childhood Intervention, where all three children are currently receiving services.

When asked about the ways in which Any Baby Can has changed her life, Perkins replied, “Oh my God, I don’t even have enough words. They made Christmas possible for the children and even got me a gift. I am on a fixed income and didn’t know what I was going to do. They were there with all kinds of help and support. There is no way in the world I could have made it without this organization. They are miracles – angels sent from God.”

Clearly, the scope of services provided by Any Baby Can is far-reaching, affecting not only children with special needs, but also siblings, parents, and grandparents. According to Any Baby Can’s website, the number of individuals annually served by the agency exceeds 10,000, through programs such as support groups (conducted by licensed counselors), prescription assistance, and educational services. The agency also assists families in need of medical equipment and supplies, transportation, and temporary housing.

Family and friends participate in Any Baby Can's Superhero 5K. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.
Family and friends participate in Any Baby Can’s Superhero 5K. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.

Any Baby Can is committed to providing services free of charge and relies on fundraising and community support. A longtime Fiesta San Antonio participant, this year Any Baby Can has expanded its family-friendly event, Any Baby Can’s Fiesta, to reflect the wide variety of programs and services it offers in its mission to improve lives. The event, which includes a Superhero 5K, the 11th annual Walk for Autism, games and activities, and a Resource Fair, raises money to support families who are raising children with special needs.

In addition to raising money, the event also increases awareness of the agency’s mission: to give special-needs and chronically ill children the chance at a better life, and to provide hands-on support to help those children – and their families – reach their maximum potential.

Any Baby Can’s Fiesta will be held at the AT&T Center on Saturday, April 18, and the festivities begin at 7 a.m. Visit for more information.

Friends and family celebrate during Any Baby Can's Fiesta. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.
Friends and family celebrate during Any Baby Can’s Fiesta. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.

*Featured/top image: Family and friends celebrate at Any Baby Can’s Fiesta while wearing “Keep calm, it’s only autism” shirts. Photo courtesy of Any Baby Can.

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Jennifer Hindert is an English teacher at John Jay High School/Science and Engineering Academy in the Northside Independent School District. She is married and has two children, and has lived in San Antonio...