During the year, Ron and Ruth Ashby rarely have a chance for a night out together.
The couple has three sons, Steven, 10, Benjamin, 8, and Chance, 3. The younger boys were born with a genetic chromosome disorder, Trisome 7. Called "unbalanced translocation," the boys were born missing a piece of their seventh chromosome and with an extra piece on their 11th chromosome, causing them mental and physical disabilities.Benjamin and Chance need around-the-clock care. But once a year, the Ashbys get a chance to go to dinner and stay at a hotel, as part of a respite program sponsored by the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Utah. The program even pays the boy's grandmothers to come in and care for them while their parents are out.
The respitality program began in 1982. Last year, the program served 107 families from April to December, said Amy Meyers, respitality coordinator for United Cerebral Palsy of Utah.
Many of the families served are on a waiting list for similar respite care from the state Division of Services for People with Disabilities.
"It's so important because a lot of times there are huge waiting lists for DSPD, and some of these families don't have anyone to help them take care of their kids. They're doing it 24 hours a day," Meyers said. Some families also have large medical bills that makes a $50 dining excursion and overnight hotel stay impossible.
Any Utah family who has a child with a physical disability qualifies for the respitality program, which is free regardless of the family's income.
The program is run through private donations and contributions from Kennecott Copper, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Radisson Hotel.
The Ashbys are going out this weekend for their third year in a row. The couple looks forward to the rejuvenation and the excursion, usually the only one all year when they can go out together without their sons.
"You can't wait for the weekend every year," Ruth Ashby said. "They take care of everything, and it is just a fun night to get away."