Sarah Kritikos

  • June 20, 2011
  • #7601

I’d like you to meet our Junior Miss of Family Retreats.

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends" where, as you know, we are holding retreats for disabled children and adults across the country this summer. And if… if I were to crown someone as our Junior Miss of Family Retreats, it would be Sarah Kritikos. Hers is one amazing story!

It started back in the mid 1990’s when we were beginning a new Family Retreat up in the coastal Redwoods of California – the Mission Springs Family Retreat was brand new and we were beating the bushes, to invite new families. Kathy Kritikos heard about it through her church friends – her husband had left her and she was raising Sarah, her disabled daughter, by herself. Eleven-year-old Sarah, was able to walk and see a little bit, but her one leg and arm were very short and she had a lot of other developmental disabilities. To Kathy, a Family Retreat sounded good, but she didn’t have the money. That was no problem. Her church chipped in and with the help of a scholarship from Joni and Friends, Kathy and Sarah arrived early Monday morning at Mission Springs. 

Now for Sarah, this was a brand new experience. Although she was 11 years old, she had no friends. All her little life she had been in and out of hospitals for surgeries, and she had never had a chance to regularly attend school. For Sarah and her disability, she had been tutored and home-schooled all her life. Well! It just so happened that there on the campus of Mission Springs lived a family in one of the cabins on the hillside – 12-year-old Lydia stood at a distance and watched all the families arriving at the conference center. Although Lydia and her family were not a part of our retreat, still… we were on their turf, and this 12-year-old watched with wide-eyed wonder and interest at the arrival of so many disabled children on campus. Lydia decided to venture closer to all the activity, and that’s when she stumbled upon Sarah. It didn’t take long for these two kids to connect, and before we knew it, able-bodied Lydia was joining disabled Sarah in some of the children’s activities.

“Who’s that little girl with Sarah?” one of our leaders asked. “It’s not her volunteer… she’s too young.” That’s when we put two-and-two together. “Oh, yes, Lydia lives here at the conference center with her family.” Should we say something? Do something? Nah… just look at those two little girls (one disabled and the other helping out)… they’re having too much fun together.

Well, like I said, that was back in the mid-1990’s. Needless to say, Sarah came to Family Retreat every year after that – and always and always, Lydia was there waiting for her with open arms. The Bible says there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother – and Lydia became that friend to Sarah… a best friend. And I'm happy to say that last year, 27-year-old Lydia married a young man who, interestingly enough, served as a volunteer at Mission Springs. And guess who was one of the bridesmaids in Lydia’s wedding?! That’s right… Sarah… in a beautiful blue dress with her hair all done up. You have got to meet her and Lydia, and you can by visiting my radio page at Just click on the video and get an up-close look at a Family Retreat. And maybe, just maybe it’ll inspire you to reach out and become involved like Lydia once did so many years ago. Consider signing up and serving with us this summer at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat – and you just might find yourself ministering alongside Sarah and Lydia.

And once again, let me remind you of our website, come by and visit us at any time. It’s

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