New foundation created to connect children with adaptive equipment

Petersons+son%2C+Cole%2C+poses+for+picture.+On+the+left+side+is+The+COLE+Foundations+logo.

Photo submitted by Colleen Peterson

Peterson’s son, Cole, poses for picture. On the left side is The COLE Foundations logo.

Sophie MacDonald, Graphic Designer

Children often ask for something. Whether it is the class field trip cost, clothes, even a new hockey stick or soccer ball for sports. Now imagine that hockey stick costing $10,000 and a child needs that exact one or they are not able to skate. That is the reality for some parents of children with special needs. Their child may need certain adaptive equipment, such as a wheelchair, in order to attend school, medical appointments, and family outings. However, pediatric wheelchairs are thousands of dollars, and many parents have trouble affording those costs. That’s where the COLE Foundation comes in to help. Colleen Peterson is the president and founder of The COLE Foundation, an organization that lends adaptive equipment to children with special needs. When the child outgrows it, the family can return it so another family is able to use it. 

The COLE Foundation was named after Peterson’s son, who was born in 2013 and diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Peterson always knew that the foundation would be named after Cole, however, she also wanted it to be an acronym that highlighted the purpose. Upon playing around with words, she quickly came up with the Children’s Organization of Lending Equipment. Although she tried other names, she determined her first idea fit the best.

The COLE Foundation receives donated equipment, such as wheelchairs, adaptive bikes, therapy equipment, strollers, and walkers. The equipment is then connected to families and children, who can use it for as long as they need. When the child outgrows it, or does not use it anymore, the families can return it so another child can use the equipment. Starting May 1, every first Saturday of every month, there will be a donation day held at Family Achievement Center in Bloomington or Woodbury. Families can make an appointment to borrow or donate equipment. 

Peterson’s goal is to help children with special needs get the equipment they need to reach their maximum potential. Her motivation came from her frustration with the difficulty of obtaining equipment for her son. Insurance does not always cover equipment, and when it does, it can take months or even years for the insurance to approve and obtain the device.

“I can’t change the insurance companies. I can’t change the state of Minnesota, that’s why I started this. I felt like this was something I could actually change and make a difference instead of complaining about it,” Peterson said.

I can’t change the insurance companies. I can’t change the state of Minnesota. that’s why I started this, I felt like this was something I could actually change and make a difference instead of complaining about it”

— Colleen Peterson

Starting a nonprofit is no easy task, and includes many different moving parts. A website designer, lawyers, attorneys, board of directors are some of the many people needed to help launch a foundation.

“You have a lot of responsibility seeking out the right people to help make sure it’s successful,” Peterson said. 

The COLE Foundation has various staff/volunteers, including Amanda Tiffany. She worked with Peterson in 2013, and they have casually stayed in touch since. Tiffany currently volunteers her time to the COLE Foundation and has watched the non-profit grow. 

“Since The COLE Foundation is in its early stages of launching, I’ve seen it grow from an idea, to a living mission and vision bringing resources and people together for a great cause,” Amanda Tiffany said. 

The foundation’s website launched late March, the website can be found at TheColeFoundation.com. Now that the website is up and running, the COLE Foundation team can continue working towards more goals in the future. Peterson is hoping that The COLE foundation will spread throughout the entire nation.