SEBRING — As the Children’s Museum of the Highlands prepares to reopen soon in its North Ridgewood Drive location it received a big boost from its supporters Doctors Ashok and Raji Sonni.

The Sonni’s offered to match the funds raised by the museum’s mystery dinner theater, which raised over $21,000.

Children’s Museum Executive Director Kelly Dressel was grateful Monday morning when the Sonni’s presented her with a check for $25,000.

The Sonni’s daughter, Smitha Sonni, said she enjoyed the museum as a child.

“It is our pleasure to help contribute so that all the children of Sebring can really learn and grow from it,” she said.

Ashok Sonni said, “We love children. We moved here 37 years ago and have stayed here and don’t have any plans of leaving. Hopefully we have many more things to do for this county in the years to come. The community here has given us back much more than we have offered over the years.”

Raji Sonni said, to support the museum, they wanted to do a matching donation up to $25,000 so the museum could afford to buy new things and move in.

Smitha Sonni said activities and things to do are important to combat childhood obesity.

As a physician, she sees that if children start out being obese they have no chance of being healthy as adult.

“So having things like this that are affordable and satisfying for children and good for parents to let their kids run around, I think will be very helpful,” Smitha Sonni said.

After repairs were made to the building, the museum is almost ready to open.

They are waiting on fire and city inspections, Dressel said.

“We were hoping to be open this past week, but we have a few hiccups with our existing A/C unit; it is not cooling to full capacity,” she said. “We are working feverishly to get it up and running as quickly as possible because it is a little warm in here.

“I hope to open within 10 days; we are super, super close. The big stuff is here and now we will start the final painting and bringing in the accessories and toys that go with each piece. The floor will have its final prep and paint and then a few days of install and then we can be open.”


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