A special day for some special kids in Tigard

A special day for some special kids in Tigard
Cambrianna Angelini (right) and her brother Gabriel bounce around Tuesday at Sky High Sports in Tigard.

TIGARD, Ore. -- If her squealing laughter and shining smile were any indications, Cambrianna Angelini might just have been in her own personal heaven Tuesday afternoon.

Angelini's heavenly spot might not be the ideal spot when people think of serene locations -- inside a giant Tigard warehouse. But inside that giant warehouse is Sky High Sports -- a kid-friendly business houses dozens of large trampolines for children and adults alike to jump and play on.

Isabelle Angelini took her three children -- Cambrianna, 4, Gabriel 2, and Matthew, 3 months -- to Sky High Sports on Tuesday as part of Sky High's special promotion where it hosts and tailors the event to special needs children the first Tuesday of every month. It's the brainchild of Sky High owner Jerry Raymond, whose 20-year-old son Tyler was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at age four.

Raymond had been toiling away in the computer industry before he ventured into his new business six years ago, which was partly due to his son. Raymond's wife worked in the movie theater business, which was fun, but didn't exactly provide an outlet for Tyler to run around and play.

"I wanted something that kids could get more involved in and this was a great opportunity," Raymond said.

Seeing the joy of Tyler, along with other skills he was learning there, such as interacting with others, was a joy for Raymond.

"It gave him an outlet," he said. "It was one of those challenges that knowing what other parents go through in finding a place that my kid can interact and play with other kids. It's just a great opportunity for them and to do it on a trampoline and playing with the balls in dodgeball."

Angelini, who lives in Lake Oswego, is hoping the same thing for daughter Cambrianna, who was recently diagnosed with autism. When Cambrianna was diagnosed with her affliction, which affects 1 in 88 children according to the CDC, her mother began her quest to find out what could help her daughter. On Facebook, Isabelle found Westside Autism Moms, a local group devoted to supporting mothers who have children with autism. She joined the group less than two weeks ago and saw a notice about Sky High's event for children with special needs.

On Tuesday, Angelini took her three children to Sky High for the first time. Cambrianna had jumped around on the family's mini-trampoline at home, but Tuesday's experience was an eye-opener.

"This is just on such a bigger scale," Angelini said. "She's having a blast and it's good for her to move around."

But the monthly event is more than kids with special needs jumping around on trampolines. The event at each of Sky High's 15 sites across the country is tailored specifically for them. The events seem to be growing in popularity, too. At Sky High's site in Seattle, more than 100 attended a recent event.

"We basically set it up for them and with the music turned off," Raymond said. "In the locations where we can, we also turn the lights down some. So basically, we remove a lot of the distractions and let in a smaller amount of people. We also set aside a court area just for those kids that are having more special needs who need it even quieter and more space."

Angelini said Sky High's tailoring the event to children with special needs was ideal because many environments aren't controllable, whether it be at a grocery store, at a mall or a variety of other spots where people congregate.

"I wanted to do stuff with her on my own because sometimes it's hard being out with a lot of people because she doesn't do well in crowds and it's overwhelming with lots of people, lights and noise," Angelini said. "When we found this, it was great because it's a special time for them to come where they changed the environment to suit their needs. It's great."

Tuesday wasn't the last time Angelini and her children will make the trek from their Lake Oswego home to Sky High in Tigard.

"We'll be back, definitely," Angelini said. "This is great. People should come check this out."