CHAMPAIGN Ill., (WCIA) – If you drive through Champaign, you may notice a large tree on the corner of Prospect Ave. and Marketview Dr. It’s called Tree of Hope and it’s the Developmental Services Center’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Every $50 lights up a bulb on the tree. The money raised goes towards families with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. That includes the family of Amber Fitzgerald, who is the mother of Caleb and Cali.

When the pandemic forced Caleb’s daycare to close, Amber reached out to DSC. She had noticed that her son, who was diagnosed with autism, stopped talking and she needed help. Before, Caleb was able to speak simple phrases like “mama” and “papa”. However after the daycare closed, he simply stopped talking.

Amber was connected to a therapist, who has made a huge impact on her family’s lives. Amber is now able to communicate with both of her kids through the use of communication boards set up by the therapist. The use of visual boards has also helped Amber show Caleb and Cali events going on throughout the day.

“The fact that I am able to communicate with the kids has changed,” Amber said on The Morning Show. “It’s been a huge help for us. We’ve been receiving speech therapy, occupational therapy and that’s been a huge help.”

The Tree of Hope campaign has already made half of it’s goal of $215,000. The campaign runs until January 31st.