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Special needs nonprofit to host fundraiser

BARRINGTON – Searching for activities tailored to his special needs son, David Holt and other Barrington-area residents founded Barrington Area Special Voices.

Holt’s 11-year-old son Sean Holt has autism and playing team sports isn’t his strength. But, with BASV’s Kids in Action open gym event, Sean gets to play with his peers and siblings Patrick Holt, a sophomore at Barrington High School, and Megan Holt, a seventh grader at Barrington Middle School-Station.

BASV will host its annual fundraising event Shamrock Shindig on March 8 at McGonigals Pub.

BASV was founded in 2007 to fill a need within the Barrington community, David Holt said. The nonprofit is run by a group of volunteers and serves about 200 families. The organization is largely activities based, providing children with special needs an opportunity to get out and have fun with their peers, siblings and family, and offers adults a chance to network with others in a similar situation.

“The BASV families are accepting,” Holt said. “They just get it. It’s a fun place, but it’s safe and exciting for my son.”

In addition to open gym nights, the organization also hosts several events throughout the year including a fall hayride, allergen-free trick-or-treating night, Santa night and more.

Holt loves that all of his children can participate in the BASV events together and his older children have benefited from it.

“They have nurtured their compassion having a brother with special needs,” Holt said.

While the kids are having fun, the parents are getting to know each other as well. They’ve often worked together to educate people on children with special needs so they are more accepted.

The nonprofit provides everything to families for free, up until this past January when it began to charge a $35 fee per family.

It relies on donations to provide the events. Contributors to Barrington Area Special Voices include the Barrington Area Development Council, Barrington Area Community Foundation, Barrington Children’s’ Charities, Junior Women’s Club, Barrington Noon Rotary and numerous local churches.

Events are really tailored to the needs of the families and the organization is constantly adding events.

“It’s wonderful because I can see his differences as charming,” Holt said of watching his son at the events. “Some people might look at the things he can’t do, but I look at how happy he is doing the things he can do.”

Just as the organization is run by volunteers, so are all of the events and Barrington Area Special Voices is always looking for volunteers. Barrington resident Jennifer Garrels is one of the founders of BASV and often volunteers at events.

“It’s one of the great things about the organization, going and seeing the happiness on these families faces,” Garrels said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Holt at or by visiting

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