Spoelstras help Miami Learning Experience School raise money for special needs students

MIAMI (WSVN) - Erik and Nikki Spoelstra are giving back to the community by helping a special needs school raise much-needed funds.

The power couple is working with the Miami Learning Experience School to raise funds for campus renovations and the expansion of their adult campus.

The non-profit school serves students with developmental disabilities from early childhood to adulthood.

Nikki Spoelstra is a former educator, and although she is no longer teaching, she still spends much of her time around students.

“Any bad day can be fixed when you’re spending time with these students,” said Spoelstra.

She even celebrated her last birthday surrounded by the students and faculty at the school.

She, along with her husband Erick, known to many as “Coach Spo,” spend much of their time at the school.

“We see what can happen when you have the right amount of compassion, the right amount of love, the right amount of opportunity and inclusion,” said Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.

The family is expecting their second baby, and while parenthood and basketball are a major part of their lives, so is the Miami Learning Experience School community.

“Our goal is to raise $3 million in three years, and we are actually well on our way to achieving that goal,” said Spoelstra.

Spoelstra is working as a chairperson to the campaign.

“The adult program is growing, and it’s amazing because these adults get to choose their classes,” said Miami Learning Experience Director of Special Projects Mari Rey. “They could take things from photography to world cultures to zumba. Then the younger ones are also doing STEM lessons, and we have promethium boards and so much more technology. Little by little we’re growing, and the goal is to keep growing and to keep having a place for these children.”

The Spoelstras donated $50,000 to the school in 2018 for a new art room.

“The art classroom will be named the Erik and Nikki Spoelstra Art Room, which is so special because Nikki loves art, and it’s a way of her sharing it with us and bringing it together,” said Rey.

“We’re really proud of that, and it’s something that we think our children can come visit with the kids, do art projects all together and really feel like we’re part of the MLE community,” said Spoelstra.

The couple vows to continue raising money through art and have teamed up with Art Angels Gallery in the Design District for an event on Oct. 19 to benefit the school.

“On the evening of the event, we’ll be donating 10% of the proceeds from every sale to the school, as well as Art Angels is matching an additional 10 percent,” said Art Angels Gallery Director Lisha Mcardle.

“Until you experience it, it changes your life,” said Spoelstra. “We encourage anybody to come spend the day at any one of our events, any one of the give backs but just as importantly visit the school.”

While they work to make a difference for the school, they said it’s the students who have changed their lives.

The Work of Heart event takes place Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. and general admission tickets cost $150 per person.

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