SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A couple hundred families of children with special needs gathered at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park Saturday for a private Easter parade organized by the Mascot Miracles Foundation.
"A lot of these families have not been out for, like, six months," Mascot Miracles founder Trina Ellis said. "For them to be able to get into some type of an environment to where they can socialize with those around them is huge for them."
For many families with special needs children, getting out for community events has been a challenge during the pandemic.
"At first it was more hard because it was scary," Claudia Bushman said. "All the unknowns. You didn't know what it could do or how she would react to it."
Bushman's daughter Brooke was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder when she was two, putting her at higher risk if she were to get COVID-19.
"Brooke actually has Rett syndrome," Bushman added. "She was born normal, and she stopped meeting her milestones at about 12 months."
She said events like the Easter parade and others organized by the Mascot Miracle Foundation are great ways for her family to safely enjoy the holiday.
"Just getting out is so good," Bushman said. "Especially something we can do as a family."
David Greenwood said it's nice to have events organized specifically for special needs children. His 6-year-old daughter was born with a rare chromosome disorder called 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome.
"These are things that are really for her, and so it's nice to have her be able to have these opportunities that most people don't normally get," Greenwood said. "Because of some of the things these people do for Mascot Miracles, it's great to have these opportunities for them to do that."
Families at the parade said it's also a great way to meet others with special needs children to share experiences and build a community.
"It means so much because some families that don't have special needs just don't understand the stress and emotions that you experience with someone high risk," Bushman said. "And so to be able to be a part of this community where other parents know exactly how you feel, and they know their kid's limitations as much as your kid's limitations, it's so nice to have that community that backs you up and just supports you."