I met Marie Kuck for the first time five or so years ago at the McLean Bible Church Accessibility Summit. She’s probably not aware of how instrumental she was in the development of our current Key Ministry team. She interviewed me for a video she was composing for her ministry. While I was waiting to be filmed, I sat in while Marie interviewed another ministry leader who impressed me greatly while sharing her story of how God used her struggles in high school to sensitize her to the needs of persons with disabilities…Harmony Hensley. I’m very pleased that Marie has accepted our invitation to speak at Inclusion Fusion. Her topic will be: Launch your Special Needs Ministry with a Respite Program! It Works!!! Don’t Send Kids with Special Needs Away! Get Equipped!
In Marie’s talk, viewers will learn how their church can “be a Buddy” and offer a practical and fun outreach that reaches out to kids with special needs, gives parents a break and trains volunteers lacking experience with kids with special needs. Find out how you can join the Buddy Break network that is gaining momentum across the nation. Build it and they will come!
Marie is Co-Founder of Nathaniel’s Hope, a nationally growing ministry dedicated to sharing hope and encouragement with kids with special needs (VIP Kids) and their families as well as educating and equipping the community, especially local churches with training and programs to reach out and “be a buddy” and minister to these families. Nathaniel’s Hope was birthed after the life and death of the Kuck’s son Nathaniel, who was born with multiple special needs. In 2001, at the age of 4 1/2 Nathaniel unexpectedly had a change of address from Earth to Heaven. It was after this that the Kucks responded to the call and started Nathaniel’s Hope.
Nathaniel’s Hope has developed many programs to assist families, including a growing respite program called Buddy Break. Buddy Break is a free kids/respite program done in partnership with local churches that provides a free “break” for caregivers of kids with special needs. The Kucks hope is to build a national network of 1,000 churches to support VIP families with respite care. Other programs offered by Nathaniel’s Hope include Caroling for Kids, a National VIP Birthday Club, Keep ‘m Smiling, Hall of Hope, and an Online Resource Center. On June 5th, Nathaniel’s Hope hosted their 9th annual Make ‘m Smile festival at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando to honor and celebrate VIP kids, hosting over 10,000 people…including 1,500 VIP kids!
Marie currently serves as Executive Director of Nathaniel’s Hope. As an ordained minister, Marie worked in youth ministry for over 10 years serving on church staffs in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Orlando. She is a graduate of Wheaton College, has taught in the Department of Communications at North Central University (formerly North Central Bible College) and co-hosted “Today’s Family” a local Christian television talk show in Orlando. Marie considers herself to be a “Mom on a Mission.”
Marie and her husband Tim have been married for 22 years and have 3 children, Brianna (19), Ashley (17) and Nathaniel (4 1/2, in heaven). They reside in Orlando, Florida.
Marie will be joining more than twenty leaders in children’s ministry and disability ministry on November 3rd-5th to put on a FREE Special Needs Ministry Web Summit to connect church staff, volunteers, family members and caregivers everywhere. That’s Inclusion Fusion, featuring Keynote Speaker Chuck Swindoll. Register here for the Summit!