Six-year-old girl stands tall for the disabled

May 04, 1997


Staff Writer

Amber Grimm was only 3 years old when her grandmother, Mary Pearson, took her along on her first fund-raiser for Mentally Impaired Handicapped Individuals.

"She really took to it," said Pearson, 49, one of the founders of the Hagerstown-based organization, aimed at expanding recreational access for disabled people and senior citizens. "She has a very compassionate heart."

Now Pearson just assumes Amber, 6, will tag along to MiHi functions, where she helps out by selling raffle tickets, running children's games, participating in the karioke contest - basically anything she's asked to do.


"She'd have a cow if I didn't bring her along," said Pearson, who enjoys seeing her outgoing granddaughter get other children involved. "She just loves it. She loves spending her money as well as helping out."

Amber pitched in Sunday at a MiHi fund-raiser at the South End Shopping Center by running her own fish pond game, coloring dots for a lollipop game and starting off the karioke contest.

"I just like to help raise money for MiHi...for poor children who have no leg or arms - I just want to help them," said Amber, a first-grader at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown.

In March, Amber used her zeal for MiHi to help persuade state senators to pass a $35,000 bond bill, Pearson said.

"I told her that I was going down to Annapolis to try to get some bond money, and she said, `Can I go, too?'" said Pearson, who helped Amber write a short speech to express her feelings.

It's not unusual for a child to testify in favor of a funding request - depending on the issue - because people know it's effective, said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

But Amber's appearance before the senate budget and tax committee was particularly impressive, said Munson, who said he was the only committee member familiar with MiHi.

While the other five MiHi speakers had an impact, it was Amber who sealed the deal, he said.

"The kid did a good job of selling it," Munson said. "She was clearly at ease. She came across as very sincere and articulate on behalf of the cause."

Watching Amber testify at the hearing, fellow MiHi volunteer Garry Migneault, 42, was sure she'd made a difference.

"She didn't stutter. She was really to the point," said Migneault, who struck up a friendship with Amber early on. "She's a really intelligent little girl. It's like she's a pro at this stuff."

Amber's father, Dave Grimm of Hagerstown, said he's proud of his daughter's involvement with MiHi.

"I think she's an inspiration to other kids and the handicapped," Grimm said. "She's a special little girl, definitely very lovable, very loving."

Given her kind nature, stepmother Jennifer Grimm said she's not surprised at how active Amber has become with MiHi.

"She wants to help any way she can," she said. "She's a very giving little girl. She'd do just about anything for anybody. I hope she continues."

Grimm said she has been touched by Amber's ways, especially her suggestion they give away some of her toys to less fortunate children.

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