A whirlwind of pink blew down the hallway. Her name was Jazlyn Suarez.
She had windblown curls that didn't know which way to go, and If she stopped long enough, black stripes could be seen on a pink Hello Kitty shirt with sequins on the front.
Jazlyn, 6, was the only commotion in the wide, bright halls of UCP of Central Florida's East Orange/Bailes campus, a charter school and therapy center focused on children with disabilities.
Jazlyn and her brother, Jordon, 11, have developmental delays and participate in the Keeping Children Safe program that was launched by UCP this year. The program supports children with special needs and developmental delays, working closely with families to provide support, therapy and counseling.
United Cerebral Palsy is one of several area nonprofits supported by the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund Holiday Campaign.
"Children with disabilities have a higher rate of abuse and neglect," said Ellie Hauser, director of clinical services for UCP, whose husband has cerebral palsy. "Having a child with a developmental delay or disability is financially, emotionally and physically draining."
Jazlyn and Jordon were born nearly two months premature. Jordon weighed 5 pounds when he was born; Jazlyn weighed 4. While Jazlyn showed signs of developmental delays immediately, it wasn't noticeable in her brother until around the age of 3.
"That was hard," said their mother, Evelyn Lopez, who works as an administrative assistant at UCP and takes classes online at Keiser University for health-care administration.
"Sometimes you feel like you don't have anyone to turn to. You feel like it's only your child, and you're all alone."
Finding Keeping Children Safe helped Lopez, she said, by introducing her to people in the same situation who understood what she was going through and were willing to help.
Before starting speech therapy at UCP Jazlyn couldn't say her name. Now she speaks in full sentences.
Lopez also has grown closer to Jordon, who also has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"It's blossomed him," she said. "Jordon was not very affectionate toward me. He would just completely shut down on me, and that was the end of it.
"Ellie's done an awesome job with him. Knowing I can be sitting there and he'll come up and give me a hug or kiss, that means a lot when he was a kid who wouldn't even address when I came home from work."
Now, while Jazlyn whipped around the room, talking and playing with anything that was near, Jordon was quiet and stuck close to his mother's side. He tugged on her arm when he was ready to go.
"I'm exhausted," Lopez said of how she feels at the end of the day.
"It's a little harder because both of my kids have disabilities and they can't focus. It's not like I can just be like, 'Jordon, Jazlyn, let's go!' It's very repetitive, and you just have to put in a little bit more."
As Jordon played with his handheld PlayStation Vita, he seemed not to care about what was going on around him. He was listening to every word, though.
He spoke as soon as his mother said something he disagreed with.
"I live for my kids," Lopez said. "Everything I do is with my kids. There's nowhere I go without them."
"Really?" Jordon said. "You don't go to the bathroom with us."
Lopez laughed and rolled her eyes.
ORLANDO SENTINEL FAMILY FUND