• December 25, 2014

Easter egg hunt brings smiles to special children

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 4:30 am

Matt Kane, 14, grinned as he looked over his silver wire-framed glasses, grooving to the music of Lady Antebellum on his handheld device.

His mother said he likes music and will sway back and forth in his wheelchair. It is Matt’s way of dancing. He didn’t comprehend that in just a few moments he would be on a special hunt designed just for him.

Parents of children with special needs made pre-Easter activities eggs-tra special with their own egg hunt Tuesday night on the grounds of Fairview-Miss Jewel Elementary School.

Copperas Cove High School sophomore Leo Thompson jokingly yelled at his brother Isiah, 9, referring to a character from the Peanuts comic strip.

“Hey Snoopy. Get away from that window,” said Thompson, 16, an aspiring artist who attends special education classes.

Isiah was trying to peek out the window and get a glimpse at the surprise that lay ahead. The anticipation was almost too much for him. But Thompson had his eye on him.

Children of all ages shrieked with delight as they hunted the eggs. Some were slow to squat down to pick up an egg and others needed assistance, rolling toward the eggs in their wheelchairs or requiring an arm to steady them.

The organization S.M.I.L.E. (Special Memories in Life Every day) hosted the event. The group was started in 2006 when families of children with special needs banded together to serve as a support network for one another and to provide activities designed specifically for their children around each holiday.

“There is not a lot to include our type of families,” Tai Johnson said.

Other parents nodded in agreement, including Cindy Underwood.

“My son is 25 and there are not a lot of activities for older participants,” she said.

S.M.I.L.E. has acquired its nonprofit identification number but has not applied for nonprofit status yet, said organizer Mira Lopez. She said she hopes to complete the extensive paperwork in the near future and also start a website.

Lopez is the mother of 15-year-old Ramona, who is confined to a wheelchair. Lopez started S.M.I.L.E. seven years ago. The group is funded solely by the parents.

“This group is important because there are really no other activities for families like ours to have a good time and not worry about things going on in life,” she said. “And we are like a family celebrating the holidays together.”

Barbara Kane, Matt’s mother, agreed.

“This group is like our family. My husband is retired military and his family is in Mississippi, so we try to spend holidays together with this group of families,” Barbara Kane said.

Fifteen families make up the group that meets at the school the second Tuesday of each month. Everyone is welcome. The organization is planning an Autism walk April 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at SC Lee Junior High School

Call Lopez at 254-371-0157 or email her at smilefriends09@gmail.com.

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