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A special time: Fun activities focus of fall festival for disabled children


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Children got a head start on trick or treating Saturday afternoon in the Fall Festival for Children with Special Needs at Central Texas Christian School — and nobody got rained on.

“It’s going really well,” said Jessica Amos, festival planning committee member, halfway through the two-hour program. “Lots of kids, lots of candy — all kinds of fun happening. We escaped rain so far. Because of that we’ve been able to have the hayride and some of the vendors outside, specifically the American Legion Riders who join us every year and provide our Bikers Treat.”

For that event, instead of going house-to-house the children, many of them in costume, went bike-to-bike for candy.

Scott Yearwood, a member of ALR Texas Chapter Post 55, said he has a son, Tannor, 21, with Down syndrome.

“It’s a great opportunity for the parents to come out and take their kids to a place that’s safe,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing to see people come together. They don’t know us and they don’t know our kids.”

Susie Marek, festival coordinator, said it was a great day for children with special needs to get outside, but that the planners expanded the inside space this year to allow for inclement weather. Amos said part of that was moving the food section into the cafeteria.

Amos’ 10-year-old daughter, Ameira, dressed as Anna from the movie “Frozen,” said she’s been coming to the festival for about five years. She said she liked the Bikers Treat, the fishing game and other activities.

“I’m having fun,” she said.

Her mother said Anna planned to go on the hayride, which her father, Joel Amos, was driving for.

Angie Ludwig, another volunteer, named pumpkin bowling and toilet paper toss as two of the indoor games. Painting the Pumpkin was also popular. Many of the 26 organizations participating in the festival brought their own games, she said. All-U-Med, for example, brought a fishing game. In addition to hosting the festival, CTCS loaned several games.

The festival had a great response of volunteers this year, she said, from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, CTCS and around the community. She pointed out CTCS students running games.

“They make sure to adapt, so every kid can participate,” she said.

Yoanna Garcia, community relations coordinator for Superior Healthplan, helped with the soccer game, where the children got to kick a soccer ball into a goal. She also talked to people about managed health care and Medicaid.

Joe Garcia, rehabilitation technician for All-U-Med Inc., helped with the fishing game. The organization provides rehab wheel chairs and a variety of supplies, he said. It covers the Central Texas area from Waco to College Station, and has been in business 26 years. The children were enjoying the fishing game, he said, and a lot of them were All-U-Med clients.

Elijah St. John, owner of Impact Therapy Solutions in Temple, said he opened Oct. 1. The company does physical therapy, he said, including occupational, speech, message and aquatic therapy. It also has yoga and fitness classes. He brought gift cards and 600 T-shirts to pass out.

“We may give them all away,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of interest.”

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