Kari Jo Wagner knew nothing about fetal alcohol disorders until she and her husband adopted a child from Ukraine.
Now the Farmington Hills resident has formed a nonprofit to help all children like her daughter. Farmington city officials on Monday approved a special event request to allow the Friends of FASD 5K fundraiser September 15 at Shiawassee Park.
Council member Sara Bowman and public safety officials worked with Wagner to plan a route that requires no additional police presence, Bowman said. The timed race route is entirely in Farmington and crosses only one street.
“What I want to do is help the other kids and families I’ve met through this,” said Wagner, who noted that private therapies for children with fetal alcohol disorders can be expensive. “Many kids are adopted, and some families have adopted multiple children with fetal alcohol. With the right therapies and support, these kids can make progress.”
Event hough she works as a special education teacher, Wagner said she had “zero knowledge or education” about her daughter’s condition, which is damage to the part of the brain that governs impulse control, emotions, and the ability to understand cause and effect.
“People don’t want to talk about it, because it means the birth mother was drinking,” Wagner said. “In a lot of instances, moms don’t know they’re pregnant when they’re drinking.”
“Your passion for this is laudable, the fact that you want to help kids is I think is fantastic,” Mayor Steven Schneemann said.