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Sadie Mann can’t wait to taste the cactus juice served in a specialty mug shaped like a cowboy boot. - photo by Margaret Hobbs

Every special needs child is unique in their level of need, and each family handles the situation accordingly. One common thread with the parents is the hope their child will be accepted, and they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.  

Recently, approximately 25 children took part in the Special Games Spring Fling, hosted by The Redemption Center. A fun Western theme was chosen for the event, with guests wearing cowboy hats and bandanas. They were able to participate in a tin can shooting gallery, pan for gold, or jump on an inflatable. Some took advantage of the dance floor, having fun line dancing to country songs.  

McMinnville Special Games president Holly McBride, vice president Donna Wanamaker and a group of volunteers worked with pastor Steve Madison and his wife, Melissa, to make the night happen. The fifth annual social is planned with family in mind so everyone can have a good time. 

“This night is just for them,” said McBride. “We want the entire family to feel comfortable and have a memorable night. We feed them, take fun photos, and provide fun activities for everyone.” 

A bountiful food wagon was filled with assorted food items, with specialty drink, cactus juice served in a unique boot glass. Much of the food was donated by generous donors, and served by Redemption Center members. 

As guests entered the event, they could have photos taken by McBride in a Western wagon, or beside a large wooden horse. 

Angela and Joey Cathey and their son Nickolas, 11, attended the Spring Fling for the first time.  

“Socializing is not one of his strong suits,” said Angela of her son. “But he has opened up here tonight like I’ve never seen before. I think he feels comfortable being around other special needs children.” 

According to McBride, that’s one of the goals, to make them comfortable and to enjoy an evening designed especially for them. She also acknowledges it takes a large group of volunteers and businesses to make it happen. 

“When I first met Holly, I was teaching a lesson on serving the community,” said Madison. “Our building is the perfect location and we knew we wanted to be involved. We are trying to show others to serve, and do not want any recognition for anything we do for the community.” 

McMinnville Special Games is providing free professional photographs for children and adults with special needs April 13 at Pepper Branch Park. Contact McBride to reserve a spot for the mini photo session. 

Another big event coming up May 11 is McMinnville’s Special Games, with Olympic-type games scheduled for both men and women age 5 through adult. The 18 and up games start at 10 a.m.; with the 5 – 17 events starting at 1 p.m. All activities are planned to take place at the Warren County Middle School track and field. Registration is required, with applications to be submitted by April 17. More information can be obtained by calling McBride at 931-808-8816 or Wanamaker at 931-808-3085.