Chippewa Falls (WQOW)- Bread, pickles and mustard. Those are three ingredients that make up Tom Leuck's signature brat sandwich. Those who know the chef say generous, passionate and relentless are ingredients that make up Tom Leuck.
He is the founder behind Special Kid's Day, an area non-profit that serves children with disabilities.
"I don't know if he ever sleeps," ponders Angela Nelson, a special education teacher from Altoona, "but he lives and breathes this organization."
Chances are you've seen Tom selling and smiling at brat stands across the area. Each dairy state delicacy he serves is the bread and butter behind an annual event. The funds, partnered with sponsorships, pay for two days of fun and games, food and music at Lake Wissota State Park.
It all started years ago when Tom and his wife learned two of their children landed on the autism spectrum. "It was meant to be a good time for the kids and to show our appreciation for the hard work that the teachers and the staff do," says Tom. "They don't have an easy task."
Now approaching it's 17th year Special Kid's Day has grown to include hundreds of area students from nine different counties. "When they're at Special Kid's Day it doesn't stand out. They can do whatever they like," explains Angela. "They fit in. It's not like 'Oh, there's so and so and he has Down Syndrome'. It's 'Hey there's Jimmy and we love him and it's so good to see him'."
But it is in a quiet corner of Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls that you'll discover how deeply Tom cares. "These kids form a place in your heart," he says quietly. The names those who've been part of Special Kid's Day and have now passed on are spelled out in stone. The cost of the memorial is covered in full by Tom's non-profit.
"A lot of the families can't afford something like that," points out Angela. "That's what Tom is great at, he steps in where it's needed."
Though Special Kid's Day Tom has also helped students afford the cost to attend prom and he hosts an annual pumpkin dance. "I'd like to see it continue," he says, "after I can't do it anymore. It's a lot of work. But it's very rewarding. It really is."
For more information on Special Kid's Day and how you can get involved as a sponsor or a volunteer click here.