Happy Joe Whitty's foundation donates robots that help kids with special needs

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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - Happy Joe Whitty's legacy was celebrated Friday at the annual Happy Joe's Kids Foundation's Ladies Luncheon.

The focus of Friday's Happy Joe's Kids Foundation's Ladies Luncheon was a virtual presence robot called Double Robotics that can help kids who are stuck at home get the same classroom experience as their peers. (KWQC)

The foundation hosts the event every year to help raise money for kids with special needs in the Quad Cities.

The luncheon featured a shopping boutique, followed by a lunch, and several speakers took the stage after.

The focus of the luncheon was a virtual presence robot called Double Robotics that can help kids who are stuck at home get the same classroom experience as their peers.

There was even a little surprise presented to the organization who first brought the first robot to the Quad Cities: two more robots for the community.

"We're talking about the Double Robot, which is a robot that allows children who are home-bound to go to school and events via robot. We're going to be making sure that we have more of them. Right now, we only have one robot in the Quad Cities, and there's a lot of kids who could use the robot to get out of the house and integrate with their classmates and their teachers, go on field trips and go to parties," ," Kristel Ersan, Whitty's youngest daughter and the marketing director of the foundation, said.

The foundation donated the two robots to the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.

So far, several school districts have benefited from these robots. North Scott was the first district in the area to purchase their own robot.

The cost of the robots usually range from $4,000 to $5,000 each.

Ersan also said she hopes the luncheon and her father's legacy will inspire others to give back, as well.

"He showed a lot of human kindness, so we're just encouraging everyone to sort of pay that forward. You know, think about Joe in your daily life and think about how you can be a better person and give back or do something special for someone. That's all Joe ever really wanted," Ersan said.

Celebration of life services for Happy Joe Whitty are happening this weekend. He passed away last week at the age of 82.