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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Special Needs Day is favorite for many

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Creed Taylor, a student in the Holice Powell preschool program, takes a spin on the merry go round.
When Special Needs Day comes at the Dyer County Fair, it's hard to tell who's having more fun -- the kids or the volunteers there to help them.

"This is my favorite day," said Lee Hastings, president of this year's fair board looking at the line for the Ferris wheel. "The expressions on these kids' faces -- that's what it's all about."

An estimated 330 special-needs kids kept the midway hopping Wednesday as they went from ride to ride, trying to find their favorite.

Drake Box, standing, and Brianne Harris pet a duckling at the J.W. Anderson Barnyard. They are students in the Dyersburg Primary School preschool program.
The Dyer County Fair has had a special-needs day for the last 25 years.

"They've had a handicapped day since the early 1980s," said Sandy Baker, special education supervisor with Dyersburg City Schools and a member of the fair board. "I was teaching at Dyer County Central and brought my class in 1985."

Baker's was the first class to attend the day when it was held at the old fairgrounds.

Coming in for a landing on the elephant ride are Dyersburg Primary School kindergartners Orlando Kershaw and Marquall Hill.
"Then it just blossomed from there (because) we talked about it and everybody had big time," Baker said. "It's been larger since they moved out here (in 1990)."

Part of that blossoming is because of the number of volunteers, not only from the community but also from Myers International Midways. The rides are provided at no cost to the kids thanks to the company.

"This is a cooperative effort between us and Myers," Hastings said. "It's in our contract to have a special-needs day and they're more than willing to do it."

Dyersburg City Schools superintendent Lloyd Ramer got in on the fun Wednesday during Special Needs Day at the Dyer County Fair He rode the Silver Streak with Erik Yeagar. Ahead of them, fair board member Sheena North rides with Eric Lansaw. Erik and Eric are students at Dyersburg Intermediate School.
"Myers tells their people what it's about and they volunteer their time (to operate the rides)," Baker said. "We had a great variety (of rides) for the kids."

For third year, lunch -- hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks -- was compliments of Security Bank. Serving were Mary Beasley, Jennifer Nunley, Laura Dodson, Kelly Browning, Cindy Reed, Jane Taylor, Jason Roberts and Jared Agee.

Baker said she had approximately 250 kids confirm from Dyer County Schools, Dyersburg City Schools and Lake County Schools, noting the day is open to other school systems in the area.

For the third year, Security Bank provided lunch during Special Needs Day at the Dyer County Fair. Serving were Mary Beasley, Jennifer Nunley, Laura Dodson, Kelly Browning, Cindy Reed, Jane Taylor Jason Roberts and Jared Agee.
"This has been a big day for the school system for a long time," said Dyersburg City Schools superintendent Lloyd Ramer, just after he'd gotten off the Silver Streak. This was Ramer's first year to come to Special Needs Day.

"I wanted to see the kids have a lot of fun," he said. "Sandy's been asking me for years and years to come out. It's really great to see the kids and teachers as well. It's a neat atmosphere. There are no words for the job done to make this possible."

To assist teachers, members of the fair board and youth fair board volunteered their time.

Youth fair board member Maurie Baker takes Nick McCrite, a student in the Dyersburg Primary School preschool program, for a ride down the Fun Slide.
"I've enjoyed myself," said Jennie Pate Hollingsworth.

The daughter of Jerry Pate Hollingsworth and Debbie Ogden, she grew up around the Dyer County Fair. A junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, she is a social work major. While Hollingsworth assisted with Senior Citizens Day in 2000 when she was crowned the Fairest of the Fair, this was her first time to be at Special Needs Day.

With her major, she explained, she plans to go into school social work and thinks she'll be working with a number of special-needs children. Hollingsworth spent Wednesday morning with a group from Dyersburg Intermediate School. Her volunteer hours will count toward a humanities class she's taking this semester.

"It makes you feel good to see the kids and the smiles on their faces," Hollingsworth said as the groups slowly made their way to lunch, the kids not wanting to quit riding. "There's been a few times I didn't know if I was going to laugh or cry. I think I'll walk away from this a better person."

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