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Meet Katie and Christopher Moore of ABC Hopes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie and Christopher Moore.

Katie and Christopher, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
ABC Hopes, All Because Christopher HOPES (Hands Offering People Empowerment in Society), came from a passion of being involved with my younger brother, Christopher. He is 25 years old and diagnosed with Down syndrome. His joy and thrill for life is an experience that needs to be shared with others. The bond that I have with Christopher is evident through the hard work and dedication that has become my heart and soul over the last four years, since ABC Hopes was founded in 2013. The goal of ABC Hopes is to inspire others through the examples and actions of young adults with intellectual disabilities, our ABC Hopes participants. ABC Hopes gives us the opportunity to showcase the character and passion of these exceptional people.

We began with a vision in mind of bettering the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. As we have grown in the last few years we have felt it is important to the value of our vision to not only better the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, but also all individuals with intellectual disabilities. Our mission as an organization is to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to contribute to society in a positive manner by giving them job opportunities that develop their social and educational skills. Through ABC Hopes we have created an opportunity for young adults with intellectual disabilities to get out into the community, work, build their independence, enhance their social skills and increase their health and well-being. We are accomplishing this on a small scale each and every day at our two farmers markets as well as through a fitness program we have created.

The concept behind the farmers markets is to provide a job opportunity for these young individuals. We are currently involved in two markets and at each market the participants, man the booth selling various citrus products and avocados and, more importantly, interacting with the customers. This route has shown our community that ABC Hopes has been successful in teaching participants how to work in a business setting. This direction has led to more inclusion in our community from community members and organizations.

Since we began working in the markets, the level of improvement seen in our participants has been so rewarding. We have participants who didn’t know a dollar from a five or ten and now can give proper change back to customers, some who are less social are now making eye contact and having conversations with customers.

It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness. Customers come weekly just to have the opportunity to interact with our participants and buy produce from them.

While we have been working at the markets, I have always had a greater goal in mind. As we continue to grow, we continue to see the need for more programs that result in building skills for daily life, fostering independence and enhancing the overall wellbeing of our participants. With that in mind we connected our program with CrossFit Proper in Corona, and owner Christian Aguirre. ABC Hopes and CrossFit Proper have forged together to create ABC Hopes (dis) ABILITIES Fitness, a fitness and nutrition program specifically designed for young adults with intellectual disabilities and their parents and families. This program is tailored for the specific needs of our participants, scaled and modified from the other workout classes to build balance, endurance, strength, enhance their health, but most of all build confidence. We have found that in order to make the most impact on individuals with intellectual disabilities it is important to also educate their families and guardians. Parents, family members and friends are encouraged to come to the classes and participate alongside their loved ones.

The fitness program we have started has been greatly accepted by the families we have been working with and we have also had interest from several other gyms around the country. We have seen our vision grow by connecting with a gym in Huntington Beach, Purpose Training Center and Coach Justin Barkley. It is our goal to see this vision of ABC Hopes continue to spread across the country and impact as many lives as possible.

In addition to the farmers markets and our fitness program, ABC Hopes has been active in the community participating in:

• Anti-bullying events through the Corona Norco School District,
• Serving at Homeless shelters in Orange County
• Creating a team for the Relay For Life Cancer Walk
• Participating and donating to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,
• Adopting families over the holidays to give back,
• Volunteering with Caterina’s Club in Anaheim

It is vital to the growth of our program and participants that we do for others and are involved in the community. This is essential in spreading the word that individuals with disabilities want to belong be contributing members of society.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of my main struggles was in the beginning with creating the nonprofit. I had to do a lot of online research and asked lots of questions in order to understand the application process.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the ABC Hopes story. Tell us more about the business.
What really sets us apart is wanting to have our participants out in the community, giving back to other nonprofits, teaching our participants the importance of giving to others rather than always asking for ourselves.

I am extremely pleased with how far we have come; the lives we are positively impacting. I am hopeful and optimistic about the future and where we can take our program.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck? I am not so sure it’s good or bad. I think there are many positives and negatives that I have experienced that has shaped me into the person I am. I also believe that I will continue to experience many more positives and negatives that will continue to shape me. Change is inevitable and it is vital to growth. I am extremely blessed with the familial and community support that I am surrounded by. This support and believing that God has a plan and all things happen for a reason is what continues to drive me in those “Good Luck Bad Luck” situations.

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