INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts are proud to announce Kim Derk, a Newburgh, Ind. resident, as a 2014 honoree of the Colts Anthem Angels program, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Derk will be recognized at the Colts "Salute to Service" game this Sunday, November 16, 2014, for her outstanding contributions to the community.
When Kim Derk adopted six children from Eastern Europe, she did much more than open her heart and home: she discovered a void in her community and aspired to correct it.
Not long after expanding her family, Kim realized her children had undiagnosed mental challenges; finding no therapy opportunities near her home that suited the children's needs Kim took it upon herself to be the individual who would make a difference in their lives yet again. Leaving a successful career behind her, Kim attended night and weekend classes at Ball State University, earning her master's degree and becoming the region's first board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) focusing on autism and behaviorally challenged children.
Upon completing her degree, Kim established a one-room therapy office and, after several expansions, ultimately decided she could better serve the needs of the community in a larger space. Kim purchased the historic and abandoned 50,000 square-foot Henry Reis School and spent many late nights doing much of the renovation on the space herself. Four months after purchasing the property, she reopened it as the Lifesong Academy, employing over 45 people at what would be the region's leading center for autism and BCBA therapy. Through the Academy, Kim has trained other therapists and teachers in the use of behavior-based therapy methods, thus leaving a support network for children with special needs as her project's legacy.
"Kim could have maintained her small practice in Newburgh or even just used her considerable skills to manage the issues of her own children," writes her nominator. "However, she recognized the huge educational and therapeutic gap in the Evansville region and knew other parents were having to leave the area to find help for their children." He explains that throughout the process, "she hired people when she could not afford it; she kept them on when she could not afford it; and through all of this the community is better for it."
For her outstanding service to the community, we extend our sincerest congratulations to our Anthem Angel, Kim Derk.
"Anthem Angels…Honoring Everyday Heroes" was established by the Indianapolis Colts and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to pay tribute to Hoosier "First Respondents" who may have received little or no recognition for the strides they have made to help others in human-service related professions.
In honor of Derk's heroism, she will receive four (4) VIP Club Seat Tickets to the Colts game, a feature story with her photo in the Colts gameday magazine (the Scout) and on www.colts.com, as well as on-field recognition at the game.
Nominations are currently being accepted for upcoming 2014 home games. For more information about Anthem Angels, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, please visit: www.colts.com/anthemangels.
For more information, media may contact Stephanie Cassel, Colts Community Relations, at 317-808-5143.
About Lifesong Academy
Lifesong Academy is a full-service center that caters to the needs of individuals with neurobehavioral issues, such as ADHD, autism, chromosome disorders and other related issues, as well as their families. All of our services and techniques are presented under the umbrella of applied behavior analysis. For more information, visit www.lifesongacademy.com or call 812-490-2826.