It wasn’t unlike many family chats in the Schriber-Ball household.
Tiffany Schriber-Ball was at home with her son, Raegan, and family friend Landon Sholar discussing what musicals they really wanted to do. Sholar said he wanted to be in “The Last Five Years.” Raegan, a senior in high school at the time, needed a volunteer project to graduate and thought helping produce a show would be a great idea.
“I told them both we’d make it happen,” Ball said. “If there is one thing the Schriber-Ball family is good at, it’s putting together a musical.”
The conversation took place in 2013, a year that was unlike any other for the Schriber-Ball family. Ball’s son Jacob died that year at 12, suffering from multiple health issues. That family talk grew into a musical event benefiting the Jacob Ball Wish Fund created in honor of Jacob to benefit special needs children. This year’s production of “Into the Woods” will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Academy of Innovative Studies Auditorium and all donations will benefit the fund.
The Jacob Ball Wish Fund was created to provide assistance to teachers working with special needs children. A series of grants are created through the donations to give special needs students experiences and developmental skill builders that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
Jacob was born with double-congenital heart disease. He also suffered from seizures, never spoke verbally and had autism as well. After his death, Ball said she wanted to spread the joy of life Jacob had to other children like him.
Each musical chosen features local actors, musicians and production assistants as well as a connection to Jacob in some way. From the actors — including Ball’s mother Sue Schriber, Sholar and Amelia D’Alto this year — to the musicians in the orchestra, Ball said, all of those give their time and talents voluntarily.
D’Alto, playing the Baker’s Wife, said getting the opportunity to not only support an amazing cause but also to work with some of Evansville’s finest actors and musicians was a dream come true.
“When hearing of Jacob’s passing and seeing the impact he created, I knew it was something I wanted to commit to doing,” she said. “Many of the people in the show are people I’ve looked up to growing up, wanting to be in theater. I am honored to take part in something this special.”
Since Jacob’s death, Ball said, she has never been alone and that her son is always with her. That feeling drew her to “Into the Woods,” with the song “No One Is Alone.”
Since its inception, the fund has impacted nearly 400 special needs students in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. Grants have funded a variety of experiences, activities and tools for special needs students both in and out of the classroom. Some of the wishes funded include an iPad app for students with communication barriers and even partially funding a trip of Bosse High School students to St. Louis.
The first show, “The Last Five Years,” had a goal of raising $2,500 for the wish fund. Sholar starred and Raegan helped produce and get the word out about the show that ended up raising $6,500. Last year’s production of “Les Miserables” raised even more.
Ball hopes this year’s show will continue on that path.
“When I see the success the shows have provided for the fund,” she said, “all I can think about are the wishes that will be granted and the happiness those children and teachers will have knowing they can achieve more thanks to our help.”
What: Jacob Ball Wish Fund presents “Into the Woods”
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
Where: The Academy for Innovative Studies (Old North High School Auditorium), 2319 Stringtown Road
Tickets: Free with donations are accepted at the door
Article from the Evansville Courier & Press. www.courierpress.com
Photography by: Darrin Phegley