We began as a small support group in the early 1980s, thanks to the efforts of social worker Becky Huntley from Good Samaritan Hospital who wanted to bring together adults with Spina Bifida and children with Spina Bifida and their parents. As we grew, we evolved into an official nonprofit organization and christened ourselves the Evergreen Spina Bifida Association (ESBA).
One of our earliest active members was an adult with Spina Bifida, Gloria Olson, who represented us at the national Spina Bifida Association of America (SBAA) conference for many years. She conducted a study of women with Spina Bifida which was published by SBAA. In her tenure as ESBA president, she secured numerous grants to help the organization grow.
Charity of Choice
In 2002 we received a large monetary donation as Safeway's Charity of Choice. We now had a large treasury but a comparatively small membership, located mainly in Seattle. At the same time we realized we were the only Spina Bifida-focused group in the Pacific Northwest; therefore, we contacted SBAA constituents throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. We amassed a membership in all five states and began awarding our own grants to partners like Seattle Children's Hospital who would help fulfill our mission.
In 2008 we affiliated with SBAA, and had to break into individual chapters for each of our five states. We became the Spina Bifida Association of Washington State (SBAWS). We held our first Walk-N-Roll in 2010 and continued with events and support for our constituents, reaching 300 members strong.
Back to the Fundamentals
In 2014, after a soul-searching determination that SBAA's fundraising and prevention goals were not in line with the needs of our community, we broke away to reform as the Spina Bifida Advocates of Washington State (SBAWS). We returned to our roots as a support group focusing on community-building, inclusion and awareness. We traditionally hold three major events per year: the Walk-N-Roll and summer picnic in July, an educational summit in October to coincide with National Spina Bifida Awareness Month, and a holiday party each December. We also fund a Direct Aid Reimbursement Program which reimburses constituents up to $250/year for Spina Bifida-related medical and living expenses not covered by insurance. In 2019 we proudly held our 10th anniversary Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida.