Special Events 4 Special Kids, a nonprofit known as SE4SK, held its fourth annual start-of-summer party at Fasola Park on June 26 for area children with special needs and or disabilities.
“This is our second event that we have hosted since COVID, and we usually host four big events a year,” said SE4SK founder and President Jami Saraullo.
The nonprofit held an Easter basket auction on April 30 at the Little Red School House in Mickleton. For the recent party, children from 3 to 17 got to see a K-9 demonstration from the Deptford Police Department, learned how to use fire equipment under the direction of the Union Fire Company, and played in the playground and splash pads.
“We’ve been with the organization for two years. We’ve been to every single event that they (SE4SK) have had, and we volunteer,” said Tam Burns, who has donated water and food for past SE4SK events and praises the organization for helping her son Conner Hagerman become more sociable.
The nonprofit began with Saraullo and her daughter, who wanted to host a dance for a friend’s little brother, who has Down syndrome. The duo hosted one dance with special needs kids, and more events soon followed.
“In February of next year, we will be hitting our sixth-year mark, and it started with myself and my daughter,” Saraullo said. “We became an official nonprofit organization in 2019, and we recently signed a lease for a brand new office and educational space in Woodbury.”
On hand for the park festivities was Gabrielle Allen, who is Miss Gloucester County, for the Miss Gloucester County Scholarship Organization. Allen has volunteered with SE4SK for two years.
“Just seeing the kids and getting to hang out and party with them, while seeing them having a good time, that’s the payout and I love it,” Allen noted.
After watching officers Ryan Osmola and Mike Tirado perform takedown and narcotic demonstrations, the children made their way to the fire equipment, where they got to shoot real fire hoses and sit in the front seat of a fire truck.
For some of the older children, aging out of the program comes with new opportunities.
“They will be heading over to our space in Woodbury and will learn job and office skills to help them succeed,” Saraullo revealed.