KNOXVILLE, TN (May 30, 2012) – John, a teenager with Down syndrome, was enthralled as Curt Cloninger shared the gospel during one of the evening sessions at CHIC 2000. During the presentation, Cloninger shoved a cross into a large spool of wire, which made a cracking sound that reverberated throughout Thompson-Boling Arena.
“The place was absolutely silent except for John,” says Matthew Meyer, a member of First Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who had accompanied the teenager as his buddy. John tugged at his friend’s shirt and declared, “Now I know, now I know!”
Meyer was confused and then John told him, “Now I know that Jesus died for me!”
Special needs are not barriers for teenagers to experience all that CHIC 2012 offers, event organizers say.
“Every kid deserves an opportunity to go to CHIC,” says Dave Anderson, who is coordinating support services for his fourth time. “We want to do everything we can to integrate everyone into all of the activities.”
Anderson learns from registration forms which attendees will need some sort of assistance and begins working with parents and youth workers long before the event. Anderson and his team then work through all of the logistics, such as whether interpreters for the hearing impaired will be needed, what special vehicles will be required, as well as when and where.
“Our goal is to know about every situation,” says Anderson, who attends Libertyville Covenant Church in Libertyville, Illinois. The team asks churches to send a buddy who will accompany a special needs student. Anderson says it is less stressful for the student if they are paired with someone they know.
Meyer had known John since the young man was in first grade. “When we went down, I was hoping John would find something he could latch on to,” Meyer says.
“John and I still sit next to each other every Sunday, and every once in a while he reminds me of the time we spent at CHIC.”