PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- If all good things must come to an end, Randy and Chrissy Maale know a difficult day is coming.
They’re the owners of Triumph Kids, a play and therapy space in Palm Beach Gardens, designed with their twins in mind.
Their boys, 8-year-olds Noah and Jacob, are on the autism spectrum.
When Randy, a former West Palm Beach Police officer, and Chrissy, a physical therapist, struggled to find a place for them to get therapy all in one space, they took matters into their own hands.
“We really just felt like this was a calling. This is something that we are meant to do,” said Randy Maale.
Triumph Kids opened in December 2016 to lines out the door.
“Hundreds upon hundreds of people came through the door on the first day,” Randy said. “We actually had to have a door person which I never would have dreamed would have been the case.”
The gym is open to all children up to 11 years old, no matter their abilities.
“We didn't want it to be strictly a sensory gym or strictly a gym for children with autism,” Randy explained, “we wanted it to be a place where anybody could come anytime they wanted and could play and interact and have a good time.”
Beyond a place to play, Triumph Kids also offers speech, occupational and Applied Behavioral Analysis for people up to the age of 21.
The couple’s son Jacob who’s non-verbal, spends every day at the facility.
There are 10 therapists on staff, as well as 10 people who run the gym and a program director who all work alongside Randy and Chrissy.
Times have changed since the Maales opened to gangbuster crowds. “We had really high hopes. We know the value of it. We have seen how valuable it is,” Randy said. “We wanted it to work, it just unfortunately didn't work out the way we expected it to.”
Due to financial troubles, Randy and Chrissy said they’ve made the difficult decision to close. “It's always been just us, so financially anything that’s gone into the business is just the two of us,” Randy said. “I had a pension from the police department so everything from that is sitting around you right now.”
When the couple posted the news on their Facebook page, nearly 200 parents expressed “sadness” and “heartbreak” in the comments.
Randy and Chrissy have read every one of them. “We are obviously very sad and frustrated and disappointed in where we are at, but to realize we did help others," Chrissy said as tears ran down her face. “So it's been. They mean everything to us. We’ve read them together, many times.”
Despite the setback, the couple is determined to keep helping families like theirs.
They’ve started a not-for-profit organization called Dream Bigger Children’s Foundation.
The mission is to provide scholarships for children with autism to get the therapy they need, especially when insurance won’t cover the cost.
Their biggest need to turn that into a reality is a space for it.
Meanwhile, they plan to go out in a big way at Triumph kids.
The Maales say moms in the community have come together to help them throw a goodbye party.
They’re planning to have food, music, characters and face painting at the gym on November 27th.
Proceeds will go toward the foundation.
There is also a fund-raising effort underway.
A friend of the couple set up a Go Fund Me page, with a goal of raising $100,000.