Hometown Hero--Lilla Mae Kicklighter

For more than 50 years, the Kicklighter Resource Center has been improving the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities. It was founded in 1951 by Lilla Mae Kicklighter.

To this day, she continues to have an impact on the organization that bears her name, where children are getting special care and attention in an environment that's suited just for them and their abilities.

It's a concept created by Kicklighter, who's son Bobby was born physically and mentally disabled. She fought for years to get help for her son in public and private schools.

"I'd take him from school to school and they would diagnose him as being a problem child," she said. "This went on until he was nine years old and in the meantime I had found that there were other children in the community that they had not accepted and never had accepted."

She reached out to those other parents and the Kicklighter School was underway. She started with five children. She then asked city officials if she could use part of the old fort in Forsyth Park.

"And they said, 'Sure you can use it. What can we do to help?'" she told us. "They just handed the building over to me and maintained it and everything and stayed there for ten years in that building."

The Kicklighter Research Center has grown a great deal over the years and now includes services for people of all ages and all types of developmental disabilities. The one thing that has remained constant is Lilla Mae Kicklighter.

"She comes to every one of our important events," said chairman Tommy Lightfoot. "She's kind of our poser person. She's just a joy to be around and always has a good kind word for everybody and keeps everybody's spirits up."

For dedicating most of her adult life to helping people with disabilities, Lilla Mae Kicklighter is this week's Hometown Hero.

If you'd like to nominate a Hometown Hero, you can drop us a line at the station: PO Box 8086, Savannah, GA 31412, or email  rwallace@wtoc.com.

Reported by: Ron Wallace, rwallace@wtoc.com