Karroll enjoying new role after TV

By Anthony Welch

A little more than a year ago, longtime news anchor Jon Karroll looked to make a change.

“It was something I had been thinking about for a few years. I was happy with my TV career. I had done it a long, long time,” he said. “I started thinking about life after TV. I was wondering if there was something I could do in the community – use my face and name recognition and get with an organization and help them thrive and grow.”

Part of Karroll’s television duties entailed emceeing various events, which, in a way, inspired his new career path.

“I was doing several fundraising dinners and galas for nonprofits. I really enjoyed that,” Karroll said. “I liked the people that I met and learning about their missions. It was always very rewarding.”

Karroll sent out a few emails and heard back from Linda Ellegard, executive director for Special Kids Special Families (SKSF), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1998 to provide respite and specialized care for children and adults with disabilities and special needs. The two met for breakfast, and Ellegard explained she was looking for someone who could help with fundraising and communications, according to Karroll.

“That sounded what I was looking for,” he said. “She offered me the job, and I took it. I love it.”

So after 35 years working in television, Karroll transitioned into his role as Development and Communications Manager for Special Kids Special Families in March of 2019.

“It’s sort of evolved as we went along. What I focused on for most of the past year is getting to know some of our current sponsors, people that have made donations and reaching out trying to find new sponsors,” Karroll said. “I’m working on getting donations to the various programs using my media connections to get the word out on events and things going on.”

Special Kids Special Families’ primary mission is to provide specialized care for children and adults with disabilities and give respite to their families and caregivers. That includes a childcare facility – Zach’s Place at the Laurie Hillyard Family Center, which is open seven days a week. It’s located near 30th and Centennial on the west side of town.

“It goes beyond a typical daycare. We set our schedule to what the parents need,” Karroll said. “We have served 121 kids.”

SKSF’s second location, Joey’s Place, provides adult day care services. The other half of the program is called I-CAN. Integrated Community Accessibility and Networking (I-CAN) provides services to adults with disabilities ages 18 and older. Activities are client driven and community based focusing on the development of relationships and natural supports, according to Karroll.

“We have our own transportation vans and go out and do things in the community that are sort of social, some life skills, pre-vocational stuff and volunteering at nonprofits,” he said.

The I-CAN program focuses on independent living skills (finance and budgeting, computer classes, banking classes); health and wellness (hiking, yoga, bowling); and personal growth (arts and culture, museums and libraries, communication, socialization).

Special Kids Special Families has been in existence for 21 years, Karroll said. In addition to Zach’s Place and Joey’s Place, the organization also offers child placement, foster care, adoption services and host home providers – people that will care for adults with disabilities in their own homes.

Last summer, SKSF started offering behavioral health services for ages 4 through seniors, according to Karroll. SKSF offers counseling and specialized therapy to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions and how people see and understand situations. Its behavioral health team will consider patients’ physical, behavioral and emotional aspects of their health and help determine a course of action that is best for them. Those services include:

  • Diagnostic clinical evaluation
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Case management
  • Mental health screening
  • Psychoeducational group
  • Respite (in-home, out of home, overnight)
  • Home-based intervention services
  • Co-occurring treatment (mental health/substance use).

For a limited time (through the COVID-19 health crisis), SKSF is offering no-cost behavioral health services to seniors, Karroll mentioned. Seniors can call or email to make an appointment:

Maria Berger, MBA, LPC, CAC III

The pandemic did force the adult day care to close, however the children’s daycare was able to remain open, Karroll said.

“The daycare has been quite busy,” he said. “Any given day, more than 200 children and adults receiving service through one of our programs, multiply that with the respite we’re giving their families and caregivers.”

SKSF hosts two fundraising events each year. In March, the organization hosts a St. Patty’s Day-themed bowl-a-thon. Then in October, SKSF hosts a Night of Comedy, where guests gather at Hotel Elegante for a nice sit-down dinner, a silent auction and performances from kids from Zach’s Place as well as notable comedians. Past performers have included the likes of Josh Blue and Chris Fonseca, Karroll said. This year’s event is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10. That is pending what happens with COVID-19, of course.

Once the safer-at-home restrictions are lifted, SKSF will be looking for more volunteers to help out at the organization. Those interested can visit the SKSF website: www.sksfcolorado.org.

Karroll first started his career in radio for a few years, before getting in to television. In his 35-year television career, he worked in Grand Junction, Chico, Calif. and then ventured to Colorado Springs in 1993. He was with KRDO Channel 13 for 25 years.

“I really loved it. I enjoyed TV news and anchoring. I had enjoyed what I was doing, but seemed kind of excited about a different challenge,” Karroll said. “It’s just worked out great seeing the people we’re helping. It’s very rewarding. And I’m getting more sleep than I know what to do with.”

Sadly in February, Karroll’s wife of 35 years, Robin, lost her battle with a long illness. He enjoys spending his free time with his son Connor, whether it’s just hanging out, watching movies or traveling and exploring. Karroll also enjoys reading and playing a little guitar.

“My son and I have had each other to lean on through COVID-19,” he added.

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