Parents and kids dressed in Halloween costumes walk a 5K around Veterans Stadium, shoot hoops, and play in bounce houses on Saturday, October 29,to benefit the special-needs program in Bayonne, which includes the Buddy Baseball League and the special-needs soccer academy. Proceeds will go to providing sports equipment, uniforms, and general expenses for the programs. The Bayonne Police Department, Fire Department, and McCabe Ambulance attended, connecting with the community, supporting the cause, and giving tours of their vehicles. The deafening sirens on the police cruiser were especially popular among kids.
“We’re doing a lot more events in the community for special needs, especially for sports programs,” said Pete Amadeo, Supervisor of the Bayonne Recreation Department. “The support for our special-needs kids has been tremendous from the community.”
Support and compassion
Kasandra Lopez-Garcia’s daughter played in the bounce house after the walk. Lopez-Garcia, an assistant principal at an elementary school in Staten Island, was dressed as the Cat-in-the-Hat. “We’ve been very fortunate that our children have benefited from the [programs],” she said. “Even though we don’t have special-needs students ourselves, we like what the department is doing, so we wanted to come help out.” As for her costume, she said, “I’m an educator so I want to promote reading.”
Kathy McMadden has friends with special-needs children, so she came out to show her support. “The special-needs children and adults in Bayonne need to be recognized,” she said.“A function like this is a great day for them and for the community.” McMadden also wants to teach her own children compassion for special-needs children. “I have two teenagers, so I want to show them that they’re people, too, and they’re just like everybody else.”
Maureen Brown co-organized the event with Amadeo. She said that the event is as much for the parents as it is for the children. She said that while fundraising is great, building a sense of community is integral to supporting special-needs families. “I think a lot of times the parents need to get out and meet other parents and know they’re not alone,” she said. “There’s a great support system and community out there for them, so it’s a social event as well.”
“I think a lot of times the parents need to get out and meet other parents and know they’re not alone.” – Maureen Brown
“We’re also trying to spread awareness,” said Amadeo. He hopes the Spooktacular 5K becomes an annual tradition. “We’re looking to do this every year and make it bigger and better.”
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.