RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- At the Frankie Lemmon School, all ability levels come to the table. On Monday, they welcomed some very special guests.
"Seeing these children and the environment that they learn that's really changing their journey and the journey of their families - super powerful to all of us," said Ashley Christensen, award-winning chef and restaurant owner.
James Beard Award winner Ashley Christensen and a group of Raleigh chefs visited the students to see the fruits of their labor. Through events like the Triangle Wine Experience, they've helped raise millions of dollars for the school that provides tuition-free education for kids with and without disabilities between 3 and 5 years old. They account for about 61 percent of the schools funding.
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"It wouldn't be possible without them and they do it so behind the scenes," said Amy Asplundh, parent.
Asplundh's son is in his third and final year at Frankie Lemmon and she says she couldn't be more thankful for the chefs
"We're just super grateful as a family, as a school and as a community that we have people who care so much about making sure that kids with special needs get the best education they can get," Asplundh said.
The chefs aren't done yet. They want to put more smiles on little faces.
"I think that it's really eye opening and it inspires me to work harder at the job I do in the restaurants so I can have a bigger impact in this role as well," Christensen said.
School officials also surprised Christensen by dedicating and naming the school's kitchen after her.
Ashley Christensen, Raleigh chefs visit Frankie Lemmon School