Special needs community celebrates Easter at EGGstravaganza

ALABASTER – The Angel Warriors Foundation held its second annual Special Needs EGGstravaganza at the Thompson Sixth Grade Center gymnasium on Saturday, March 17.

According to AWF President Jamia Alexander-Williams, the EGGstravaganza was the only Easter egg hunt for people with special needs in the Alabaster area.

“It’s about having an Easter egg hunt for the special needs community as a family function,” Williams said.

Board member Nancy Owen said the EGGstravaganza created a judgment-free environment for everyone who came, and AWF decided not to place an age restriction on the event to include adults with special needs who weren’t able to participate in an Easter egg hunt before.

“We always want this to be friendly, accepting and non-judgmental,” Owen said.

Vice President Erika Zoebelein said the EGGstravaganza was first held in 2017 after AWF members recognized a need among the families of the special needs community.

“Several of us, in the past, have gone to other Easter egg hunts and have walked out with no eggs,” Zoebelein said.

Parent Myra Mendoza said this is the first opportunity her special needs daughter, Marisol, has had to attend an Easter egg hunt. Because Marisol is sensitive to outdoor temperatures, Mendoza said she was glad that the EGGstravaganza was held indoors.

“She usually doesn’t get to go to things like this because of the heat. It helps that it’s inside,” Mendoza said. “We’re just so happy to be here.”

Parents Misty and Michael DeRamus said this was the second time that they brought their daughter, Addie.

“We came last year, and it was really fun. There were so many kids who were able to get eggs,” Misty DeRamus said.

Addie said she had already filled up one basket with eggs, and was quickly working on the second. She said she especially enjoyed opening the eggs and finding prizes inside.

The DeRamuses said they were grateful to AWF for holding the event and giving their daughter to celebrate Easter in her own community, like any other child.

“I’m so glad they do stuff like this. It’s really nice,” Misty DeRamus said. “Especially since it’s so close in our community.

Additionally, the EGGstravaganza featured snacks, a bouncy house, face painting and an appearance by the Easter Bunny.

Zoebelein thanked all of the volunteers and sponsors who made this year’s Special Needs EGGstravaganza a success, including the Thompson High School Art Department, community members who donated Easter eggs and AmStar.

“We appreciate the support of the community,” Zoebelein said.

Throughout the year, AWF hosts holiday events for people with special needs along with regularly-scheduled sensory friendly dinners, movies, haircuts and other activities. In the future, Zoebelein said AWF is looking for ways to grow these events.

For more information about AWF and its events, visit Angelwarriorsfoundation.org.