Renee Blain and her husband, Wally, are the parents of a daughter diagnosed in 2005 with an acute blood-clotting disorder that spurred the couple to found Clouds of Hope, a nonprofit charity to aid her and others with life-altering illnesses.
Their fundraising efforts and perseverance led Temple Terrace to rebuild two city playgrounds with universal equipment for youngsters of all abilities. The specially equipped play areas are at the Lightfoot Recreation Center and Riverhills Park.
Blain also spearheaded Camp Cheer, a once-a-month respite care program at the First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace. The program allows special-needs children to enjoy camp-like surroundings while their parents receive some relief from child-care duties.
Renee Blain has been actively involved with the Lewis Elementary School PTA for six years, including serving two years as the PTA president.
She is a finalist for the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber's Citizen of the Year award for a second consecutive year.
1. You have said your daughter, Allie, was the inspiration behind the decision to launch Clouds of Hope. What is the most rewarding part of leading the organization?
The most rewarding part of leading the organization is being able to show people how God has a plan in all of the circumstances we face. Our situation has been difficult. However, God has used our family to reach out to many others. He has also given us a different understanding for families of children with special needs. Our daughters are both learning how to allow God to use you through your circumstances.
2. Your family has championed the additions of universally designed playground equipment featuring rides, swings and climbing equipment to accommodate children of all physical capabilities at two city parks. Are there plans to expand the program to other locations?
At this time, there are not. Clouds of Hope was founded on the premise of helping families of children with special needs in whatever circumstance they are facing. We are passionate about all-access play.
However, playgrounds have just been an avenue for us to reach the needs of families in need. We're definitely not a playground-building organization. However, that being said, if we saw an increased need for accessible play and felt it would be beneficial to support it, we definitely would.
3. If you had one wish to improve the quality of life in Temple Terrace, what would it be?
I'd love to see more support of our local schools.
4. What's your favorite pastime?
Spending time with my family.
5. What celebrity should join Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson, if he stays, to fill the third seat as a judge on "American Idol" and why?
Carrie Underwood. I think it would be fun for a former Idol winner to join the judges.