Annual Exhibit Honors Children and Youth Living with a Disability

(COLUMBIA, SC, July 11, 2023) – James Russell is a happy four-year-old boy who loves learning, has boundless energy, and is constantly seeking a challenge. James shocked his parents when he played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on his toy piano at the age of two and a half. Soon after, he taught himself to play classical music he had heard in the Disney movie Fantasia on a real piano. He has gone on to take lessons through the Carolina Lifesong Initiative at the USC School of Music and has performed in recitals at the USC Recital Hall.

James and his family are one of 80 families participating in Family Connection of South Carolina’s LOOK! 2023 photography exhibit. The exhibit offers an inspiring glimpse into the lives of children and young people who have a disability or chronic health condition. To create the exhibit, professional photographers from across the state volunteered their time to host photo sessions with families who have received services from the organization. Annually, Family Connection serves more than 5,000 families across South Carolina.

“Our family is excited to participate in LOOK!,” says Ashley Berendzen, James’ mom. “We hope to contribute to raising awareness for young people with special needs by putting a face and story behind a diagnosis so that our son is seen as a person, and not just as a diagnosis of autism. It is also important to us to have James see his own photo in the exhibit and feel confidence in himself!”

The LOOK! 2023 exhibit, presented by Groucho’s Deli, will open at a private reception for the participating families, photographers, and sponsors at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 30th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The exhibit opens to the public on July 31st at the convention center and will run through August 9th.

“We are delighted to bring LOOK! to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center,” said Amy Holbert, CEO of Family Connection. “This exhibit speaks to our values of creating inclusion, equity, and community. The intent of LOOK! is to highlight the beauty and unique abilities of the individual being photographed. We hope those who view the exhibit will take a moment to reflect and see the joy in everyday moments as experienced by these children and youth who also happen to be living with a disability,” added Holbert.

In addition to Groucho’s Deli as Presenting Sponsor, LOOK! 2023 is sponsored by Healthy BlueSM, BlueChoice® HealthPlan of South Carolina, McGuire Woods Consulting, South Carolina State Federal Credit Union, HealthLinks Magazines, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. The South Carolina Arts Council provided funding to support the exhibit display. Sponsorship and donation opportunities are still available and can be found at or by calling 803-995-1413.

About Groucho’s Deli:

Harold “Groucho” Miller came to Columbia, South Carolina in 1941 with a handful of original recipes for potato salad, coleslaw, and various salad and sandwich dressings, most of which were thought up during his childhood in a Philadelphia orphanage. These humble beginnings, along with the idea that “quality is the most important ingredient in a sandwich” are only where this story begins. Throughout the generations, Groucho’s Deli has held true to the idea of using only the highest quality products and ingredients, which has, in turn, led Groucho’s® to legendary status. Since Groucho’s first Franchise in Lexington, SC (2000), Groucho’s® has grown into multiple cities across South and North Carolina and Georgia. From Groucho’s humble beginning to expansion into new territories, the goal of each Groucho’s location is to be “Your Neighborhood Deli”.

About Family Connection of South Carolina

For more than 30 years, Family Connection of South Carolina has been changing lives by making connections, raising awareness, and promoting inclusion for those with disabilities and chronic health conditions. We offer programs and services to ensure that parents, professionals, and caregivers have access to available resources to help children reach their full potential. Our work focuses on peer-to-peer support, healthcare, education, training, and advocacy. For more information visit or call 1-800-578-8750.

Funds raised from LOOK! 2023 support Family Connection’s programs, resources, and services, which are offered at no cost to families.