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April is Civitan awareness month
Club small, but active
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To mark Civitan Awareness Month, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt hands a proclamation Wednesday to Janice Sullivan, president of the group. - photo by Jennifer Sami
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For more information on the Cumming Civitan Club, go online at

From the Special Olympics to parties for special needs students, there are many activities aimed at helping those with developmental disabilities.

And chances are, the Cumming Civitan Club has been a part of them.

“This month, we’re having a Joy Prom for special needs adults,” said Janice Sullivan, club president. “It’s a lot of fun for them.”

The local chapter of the international club has been around for nearly a quarter century.

Sullivan, who has been a member for about 18 of those years, joined not long after having her daughter, who has special needs.

“She’s in college now,” she said. “But I had a few friends in the club already, so it was a good fit.

“We’re only about 20 members, so we’re small, but we get a lot done.”

To provide the various parties and events, the club also spends time raising money.  This month, which is also Civitan Awareness Month, the club will be selling 10-pound bags of Vidalia onions.

The club also sells refreshments at Play at the Park, collects tickets at the Cumming Country Fair & Festival and sells Claxton fruitcakes.

They’re a busy group, but when the club sponsors an event, it’s all worth it, said president-elect Dianne Hansard.

“Just seeing them have so much fun -- they don’t get to do those things very often -- and they enjoy them so much,” she said.

“The children recognize us when we’re out as ‘the party ladies.’ They say, ‘Oh, you’re the party ladies.’ And they always come up and hug you and want to talk to you because they know who you are.”

Hansard first joined the club 20 years ago, after the birth of a grandson who has special needs.

To celebrate Civitan Awareness Month, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt signed a proclamation Wednesday recognizing the occasion.

After thanking the mayor, Sullivan noted that many people may not know about the club or the services its provides.

“Civitan is not a well-known club and this proclamation helps us to get the word out,” she said.