Life Enrichment Options kicks off campaign to raise $100,000

December 18, 2012

Life Enrichment Options is expanding its efforts to support those with developmental disabilities with its fundraising campaign “Let’s Have a Heart to Heart.”

The goal of the fundraiser is to collect $100,000 to purchase land for a fourth adult family home; for continued maintenance costs of three current homes; and to continue to support specialized recreational programs, educational forums and employment opportunities.

This local parent-based organization was formed more than 20 years ago to create innovative solutions to issues facing those with developmental disabilities, and to increase community awareness of people with developmental disabilities by having them included in all aspects of the community.

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Neighbors protest proposed firearms home business

August 28, 2012

Concerns about safety and traffic led downtown Issaquah residents to join forces to stop the city from approving a permit for a home-based firearms business.

The municipal Development Services Department is considering a proposal from Michael Marinos, a longtime Issaquah resident, to open the business in the Olde Town neighborhood south of East Sunset Way.

Marinos created Bigg Dogg Firearms to offer federally licensed firearms transfers to customers purchasing weapons online. Customers could then stop at Marinos’ home-based business to pick up the firearms.

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Gravity — and team spirit — power Rotary racers’ soapbox derby cars

July 17, 2012

Cian O’Farrell, 11, and driver John Morse, 10, ride the gravity car by sponsor Fred Meyer to a checkered flag waved by the Rotary Club of Issaquah’s Fred Nystrom. By Greg Farrar

A day filled with happiness for children was the goal of the 15th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race on July 14.

Viewers lined Second Avenue Southeast to watch — standing or sitting on the bleachers halfway down the block.

The event pairs up children with disabilities and volunteer children drivers to race soapbox derby cars. Gravity pulls the cars down the hill. The vehicles reach speeds of 17 mph.

About 50 children with disabilities got to race three times with rotating drivers and cars. Liberty High School cheerleaders greeted the racers at the finish line before cars were towed back to the starting line.

“It’s a great event for kids to experience a fast, free ride down Second Avenue,” Rotary Club member Russell Joe said. “For some of the riders, it’s the first time they’ve been in a car that’s running on its own without mom or dad.”

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Rotary Club soapbox derby race celebrates 15th anniversary

July 10, 2012

Drivers, co-drivers, parents, Rotary Club of Issaquah members, Issaquah High School wrestlers, Liberty High School cheerleaders and student volunteers pose for a group photo at the 2011 Challenge Day gravity car races. By Greg Farrar

The 15th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race, an event that pairs children with disabilities with a young driver of a sleek soapbox derby car, is set for July 14.

The event allows participants to experience the fun of a derby race down Second Avenue past the community center in downtown Issaquah.

For the race, the pair of youngsters climb into the seat of a sleek soapbox derby car. With the slam of the starting gate, the car’s wheels begin to turn. As gravity kicks in, the two-seater makes its way along the street.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with racing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other activities include adaptive cycling for children and adults with disabilities and lunch hosted by the Rotary Club of Issaquah for event participants and volunteers.

The event was inspired by the vision of longtime Issaquah resident and retired Puget Sound Energy executive Leo Finnegan, the father of an adult son with a disability.

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LEO celebrates completion of Issaquah Highlands family home

May 29, 2012

The house in the Issaquah Highlands still smells of new construction.

The smell of rustic carpentry, fresh paint and that familiar, yet comforting, new-house scent permeates the nostrils upon entry.

A sign next to the kitchen sink reads “Dreams Come True.”

Life Enrichment Options’ third family home for adults with developmental disabilities is officially completed.

The Angela House, named after one of LEO’s founding board members, Angela Dews, will be home to five people with developmental disabilities as well as a full-time caregiver.

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Life Enrichment Options plans home, fundraiser

October 11, 2011

Founded 22 years ago by the parents of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options is expanding.

One of the organization’s founders as well as a member of its board of directors, Rose Finnegan said LEO’s third family home should be completed by December.

The group also is planning what Finnegan said is only the second fundraising event in its history.

Harvesting Hope is the name of LEO’s luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pickering Barn. Sammamish City Council member and former host of TV’s “Evening Magazine” John Curley will host the event.

LEO’s third facility sits in the Issaquah Highlands at the corner of 25th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Logan Street.

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Life Enrichment Options hosts housing discussion

September 20, 2011

Issaquah nonprofit organization Life Enrichment Options presents a panel discussion on housing options for people with disabilities from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 29 at Tibbetts Creek Manor, 750 17th Ave. N.W. Representatives from several different housing alternatives will discuss how their settings work, and for whom. A question and answer period will follow.

Admission is free. The social time and refreshments start at 6:30 p.m.

Life Enrichment Options advocates for and works to support individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their lifestyle goals through supportive housing, recreation, employment opportunities and community education.

Call 274-4003, email, go to or visit Life Enrichment Options (LEO) on Facebook to learn more.

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Class teaches social, sexual skills to parents

September 6, 2011

Life Enrichment Options presents an evening with Dr. Jean Edwards from 7-9 pm Sept. 14 at the King County Library Service Center, 960 Newport Way.

Edwards is a professor emeritus in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at Portland State University, where she taught for 30 years. In addition, Edwards is a private consultant who works with treatment agencies around issues of social/sexual development and child abuse for those with developmental disabilities.

The presentation is suitable for parents of children of all ages and will cover what to teach your child now to avoid dire consequences in the future.

Admission is free. Refreshments and a social are at 6:30 p.m.

Life Enrichment Options is a local nonprofit organization that advocates for and works to support individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their lifestyle goals through supportive housing, recreation and employment opportunities, and community education.

Call 274-4003, email, go to or visit Life Enrichment Options (LEO) on Facebook.

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Issaquah biker roars to Rolling Thunder rally

July 26, 2011

Dave Scandiffio, 55, has been riding motorcycles since he was 8 years old. But on June 12, having returned home from a monthlong, 8,965-mile trip across the country and back, the Issaquah man set a record for himself — and for most people.

Dave Scandiffio smiles, having just arrived in Washington, D.C., with 900 other Run For The Wall motorcyclists. Contributed

Scandiffio began in his trip in Issaquah with four friends from the area. The group motored to Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where they united with other bikers in the Run for the Wall. The ride is an annual 10-day ride to the nation’s capitol as a gesture of appreciation for the sacrifices that veterans have made for the United States.

Upon arriving in Washington, D.C., the 900-strong pack joined what Scandiffio estimates were more than 500,000 motorcyclists in the annual Rolling Thunder demonstration. The demonstration’s mission is to educate the public about the many American soldiers who were left missing in action or as prisoners of war.

“It’s an emotional trip and there’s a reverence about the ride itself,” Scandiffio said. “The main message is that there are soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war left after every major war. It’s holding the government accountable for finding out what’s happened to them.”

Scandiffio served in the United States Navy from 1974 to 1979. A committed biker, he used to take his motorcycle aboard the ship. From 1983 to 1987, he served in the Oregon National Guard.

Though many of the riders were veterans, others joined the cause because they wanted to support those who fought for this country.

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Challenge Day Race is big fun for special-needs children

July 12, 2011

On July 16, the Rotary Club of Issaquah will host the 14th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race. The event allows participants with mental and physical disabilities to experience the fun of a soapbox derby race.

“It’s great to see these special-needs kids having fun,” said Leo Finnegan, creator of the Challenge Day Race. “Everybody feels really good about what happens at the races.”

Excitement builds as teams of two climb into their soapbox cars. In the driver’s side seat sits an able-bodied youngster with the special-needs youngster riding shotgun.

When the starting gate hits the ground gravity takes over, causing the streamlined soapbox cars to roll down the hill. Some cars have reached speeds as high as 17 mph.

Each special-needs child will get three rides down the hill.

“The pre-selected driver’s seat is first offered up to siblings of the special-needs kids and family members of Rotary volunteers,” Finnegan said.

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