Special needs kids heading to Disneyland

Students from the Madera High School special education class and their teachers take a photo with Pistoresi Ambulance Employees Association officers,  who donated $500 Tuesday for the class’ trip to Disneyland.   The leave  at  10:00 am today.

 

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is about to be invaded by 22 special education students from Madera. “Only two of my students have ever been to Disneyland,” said Scott Sweazy, special education teacher at Madera High School.

At 10 a.m. today, 11 students and 11 chaperones are leaving Madera for Anaheim and Disneyland.  The trip has been in the planning stages for more than three years.  They are taking two vans, with Sweazy driving one and teacher Nancy Burgess driving the other. 

“We take a field trip every year,” Sweazy said. “When they were freshmen we went to Monterey. It was the first time many of them had seen the ocean.”  He promised the students  that in their senior year, they would make an overnight trip to Disneyland. Fundraising efforts for the project were given a boost when a small story about the project appeared in a Fresno newspaper.  

Donations came from as far away as Springfield, Ill., Carlsbad and Riverside.  “All I can figure is that people read the story online and mailed us checks,” he said.  “One lady sent us $3 with a note that said she hoped that would help.”  Some of the donations received were substantial. Pamela Green donated disposable cameras so each student could have one. Her friend, Kathy Chandler, arranged for a donation from the Walgreens photo department to process the film when they get back, he said.
The Pistoresi Ambulance Employees Association made a $500 donation Tuesday. President David Sims, Vice President  Chad Murdoch and secretary Lonel lHarris delivered the check. The students also got to see their ambulance, up close, with lights flashing.  

 What initially started out to be an overnight trip ended up being a three-day, two-night excursion. The organizers had hoped to collect enough money to provide each student with about $50 spending money. People have been so generous that each student will have $100 to spend on souvenirs for the trip, Sweazy said.

 They have also been able to add some extras to the Disneyland experience, beyond the $31 group rate admission ticket. One night they will attend a pirate themed dinner.  The next morning they will have breakfast with Disney characters.

What they thought would be a pizza night has turned into a nice dinner at the House of Blues restaurant while they are in Southern California. On the way home they plan to stop in Venice Beach.  “I want them to get to feel the sand and the ocean,”  Sweazy said. 

On Tuesday, the rolling backpacks, donated by United Education Institute College of Fresno, were packed and ready to go. On Thursday when they are in Disneyland students will be wearing neon green shirts, purchased with donations.

(click on photo below to enlarge)

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