Fair hosts first Special Needs Day

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

Anyone who thinks a well written letter sent to the right people won’t make a difference needs to talk to Garrett Dodson.

The 17-year-old special needs student at Portales High School decided other young people like himself with special needs deserved their own activities at the Roosevelt County Fair. He wrote the fair board and Special Needs Day at the Roosevelt County Fair was launched Thursday.

Fair board member Melissa Lamb took charge of helping to organize the day’s activities which included 45 children and 35 helpers through the day.

The watched the fair queen’s horsemanship contest Thursday morning then they were treated to rope tricks by Wild Bill Cathey and a Splash and Friends puppet show. They also had lunch together and got a tour of the fair.

Garrett’s mother, Pat Dodson, said she was proud of her son’s effort and thought the day had been a big success.

“He wanted to start a special needs section at the fair where kids like himself could compete without competing against the general public,” Pat Dodson said.

“One of the main things he wanted to see was a category for crafts,” Lamb said. “He has a Lego ship over there he’s worked on for a year.”

Taber Caraway, 2, was beaming aboard a pony named Pistol during an afternoon horse exhibition and pet show. His mother Mandy Caraway said he had been participating in riding therapy for about a year and since beginning the therapy at Margaret Coleman’s miniature horse farm has begun walking.

“Riding has done wonders for this guy,” said Coleman, who volunteers her time and horses to help with the Special Olympics equestrian events.
Coleman said the miniatures are less threatening to special needs children because they’re at eye-level.

Valdemar Ortiz, a PHS student, proved Coleman right as he hugged Twister from his wheelchair then led the tiny pony through the pavilion arena during the pet show to collect a ribbon.

Ortiz’ family members said he was so excited after being at the fair during the morning he wanted to come right back after school and participate in the rest of the activities.

“I think it’s great, they deserve to participate,” Pat Dodson said.