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Children with special needs get a special day

21st annual Happy Holidays Celebration for Children with Disabilities at Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm

Ismal Esparza, 7, of Fairfield, center, sways back and forth on a rocking horse at the Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm during their annual Holidays Celebration for Children with Disabilities on Friday in Dixon. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A3 | December 15, 2012 |

DIXON — There was plenty of magic in the air Friday at the 21st annual Happy Holidays Celebration for Children with Disabilities at Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm.

About 350 youth and their guests were treated to a visit with Santa (gift included), sleigh rides, refreshments and plenty of socialization. They came from all over Solano County.

Parents from the Dixon area call it the “Dixon May Fair in December,” as that event also offers a day for special-needs youth.

Caleb Olinski, 4, joined in the fun. Accompanying him were his mother and paternal grandparents, visiting from Ohio.

“I’m so impressed with the turnout,” grandfather Ted Olinski said. In Ohio, he works with adults who have special needs.

“I think this is great,” Patty Olinski said.

“It looks like a little Christmas workshop,” Cassie Olinski said.

 Caleb attends Travis Elementary School. He wears a hearing aid.

Micheal Dunn, 3, couldn’t wait to take a trip on Santa’s sleigh. Mom Jaclyn Dunn couldn’t get him back in the stroller. The youngster has a mild case of cerebral palsy and visual issues.

“He really enjoys the lights, the decorations and being outside,” his mother said.

His teacher Cory Smith approached, and Michael made a dash to give her a big hug.

“He’s one of my prized possessions,” Smith said.

“This is a day when every kid gets treated a little special,” Smith said. “There’s a safety net here. Everyone is safe and secure.”
Adults seem to enjoy it as much as their children.

“The ideas is to meet someone else who can relate to your situation,” said Kelly Purcell, who organized the event through Matrix Parent Network, which offers services to families of children with special needs. “Usually moms drop the kids off at school and leave. Here they can sit down and talk with each other.”

The first one attracted about 50 youngsters, recalled Jeri Seifert, who operates the farm with her husband Ted Seifert. She is used to seeing children at the farm, and only a few adjustments are made for the special-needs students, she said.

“The parents need it as much as the kids,” she said. “We just want to share a little Christmas joy.”

Derek Johnson, 17, was one of the older ones participating.

“This is pretty cool,” he said. “They have lots of animals.”

Sean Herod, 13, had his day made when he got his first taste ever of hot apple cider.

Kevin Connelly proudly pushed his 19-month-old daughter, Mekaela, in her stroller.

“I’m having a great time. I really like the community aspect,” he said.

Mekaela has Down syndrome and underwent open heart surgery a few months ago.

“This is a very special Christmas,” Connelly said.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or amaginnis@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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