Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Mike Hull Mini Grant Review Committee awarded gifts to six families with autistic children on Dec. 19 at Mahoning Valley Lanes. They also had free bowling and pizza for the families. Pictured are the members of the committee, from left, (front) Jerry Marshall, Joe Kalamann, Melissa Kalamann, Maureen Richendollar, Nancy Hull, Mary Kay Johnson, Bertie Morrissey, Raylenne Rose; (back) John Morrissey, Art Rose and Paul Frondorf. Not pictured are Angelo Hull and Tom Mechlin.
by ZACK SHIVELY
The Mike Hull Mini Grant Review Committee presented gifts to six families with an autistic child or grandchild on Dec. 19 at Mahoning Valley Lanes.
The committee worked with the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley for the presentation. The funding for the gifts came from the Mike Hull Memorial Poker Run for Autism in the summer. The gifts included a new Nintendo gaming system, a trampoline, electronic tablets and an indoor basketball game.
Melissa Kalamann, the chair of the committee, said they receive applicants from the tri-county area that they help. They use the money they earn from the poker run to pay for Christmas gifts and bring applicants to a summer camp. Their goal is to help families with children on the autism spectrum.
Along with the gifts, the families received a night of bowling and a pizza party for free. Kalamann also invited Santa to meet with the families during the night.
The six families that the group awarded come from all over the tri-county area, including families from Struthers, Youngstown and Columbiana. The Autism Society of Mahoning Valley helped the committee find the applicants.
The grant, committee and poker run are all named in memory of Kalamann’s brother, Mike Hull. Hull performed in a band, and they played for a number of special events, including volunteer events.
“He would play for anyone who asked, from the mayor’s office to the Hell’s Angels,“ said Joe Kalamann, Melissa’s husband and close friend of Hull.
Melissa Kalamann decided the best way to keep his memory alive would be to give back to families with autistic children or grandchildren, as she has a child and Hull had a granddaughter on the autism spectrum.
Kalamann knows what it is like to raise a child with autism. She wants to give back to other families with autistic children or grandchildren.
She said she hopes to continue expanding how much help they receive. The more support they get; the more they can help, she said. Her ultimate goal is to reach a place where she can help all the families who apply for help.
The group began in 2014. They have the Annual Mike Hull Memorial Poker Run for Autism every summer. The event includes a motorcycle ride and a Chinese auction.