News Article Details

Autistic students treated to magical evening

The Daily Record - 12/24/2018

KILLBUCK — Autistic students at Holmesville Elementary School were given quite the treat this holiday season.

Rachel Speelman, the autism intervention specialist, along with her aids Angie Miller, Molly Parrot and Tiffany Durstine, organized a night out for her five students that included a movie at the Duncan Theater, pizza with firefighters and a visit from Santa.

“I really just wanted to treat them all to a special night away with their friends and teachers as a Christmas gift to them, which in turn is a gift to me too,” Speelman said.

On Dec. 15, each student was picked up from the home by the “Polar Express,” a bus donated by Precious Angels Transportation, according to Shawna Juhasz, whose son Jaxton participated.

“Each boy received a Golden Ticket and a magic bell when they boarded the bus,” Juhasz said.

The bus was driven by Precious Angels Transportation operations manager Kenny Frazier, who played the role of the Polar Express train conductor. The bus took the boys to the Duncan Theater, who set up a sensory sensitive showing at a cheap price for the students.

However, Juhasz said the movie tickets were paid for in full by Cory Miller of Burgetts Insurance Co. in Killbuck, who bought 30 tickets and popcorn and pop for all of the school staff, students and additional families with special needs children.

Next, the “Polar Express” bus took the kids to the Killbuck Fire Station, where Killbuck Pizza provided dinner and the firefighters were waiting to eat with the students. Aaron McConnahay, husband of Precious Angels employee Renee, made an appearance as Santa Claus.

The night ended after a visit to see the Christmas lights at Wachtel’s drive-through light display in Nashville, Juhasz said.

Speelman said she hopes this becomes an annual event.

“It’s like a Hallmark movie the way all of these small businesses came together to create a magical evening for five boys with autism that they don’t even know,” she said.

‘This event was, by far one of the most selfless and compassionate gestures I’ve ever witnessed,” Juhasz said. “Rachel Speelman is the autism-whisperer. She has not only changed and bettered the lives of these boys, but as result, made us parents lives better, and with Rachel as our guide, one will never lose hope for a better life for our kids.”

Kristin Hohman can be reached at 330-674-5676 or khohman@the-daily-record.com. Follow her on Twitter at Kay_elizabeth07.

CREDIT: KRISTIN HOHMAN

 
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