More than 100 family and community members headed to The Farris Wheel, 13682 Maxdale Road, Sunday evening to watch a group of special needs children and yound adults perform a special production of the ‘Nutcracker’ ballet. During Sunday’s performance, 52 children with special needs or developmental delays performed an abbreviated version of the play while other children helped served dinner to the guests.

“The instructors started preparing for this performance in June, while the kids have been preparing since September,” said Jesse Lawrence, an instructor with People Realizing Opportunity, the non-profit behind the event. “I’m so proud of these kids.”

People Realizing Opportunity, Ashley Furniture Killeen, Lonestar Realty, KidZ TherapEZE, Remember You Matter Coaching, and Heart of Texas Goodwill teamed up to host the event.

People Realizing Opportunity is a local nonprofit that focuses on inclusion of children with developmental delay or special needs by providing rich opportunities for children, volunteers, family members and the community, to participate with one another and become invested in each other’s success, according to the organization.

Lawrence said the way the event came together was a surprise for the organization.

“This is actually the first time we have done a performance like this,” Lawrence said. “Originally tonight was just supposed to be a community spaghetti dinner where the children would serve spaghetti to their parents and show them what they’ve learned. But then Lonestar Realty contacted us and said they would help us get a venue if we wanted to do a bigger performance, and we didn’t want to pass this up.”

The kitchen began serving dinner at 4:30 p.m. and the performance began shortly after 5 p.m. with everyone applauding as the performers took their marks.

“We have danced with different local ballet groups before, but this was our first performance like this, and we are already thinking about next year,” Lawrence said. “I think by around March we will have decided on what we want to present at the next event.”

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