The special needs clients of Hetlinger Developmental Services, Inc. received a chance to get out and active during the organization’s second annual field day Friday afternoon.
Hosted by Team Schnak Cycling, the event offered activities such as disc golf, cornhole, sidewalk art and accessible bike rides for all comers. Members of local law enforcement agencies and student volunteers from Emporia State University attended as well to ensure clients had the attention and assistance they needed to enjoy the day.
“It’s important to us to help everybody have a good time; it’s what we try to do everyday of our lives ...” said Team Schnak Cycling co-Founder Kent Schnakenberg. “Everybody can do something out here today, even if they’re in a wheelchair. You can just see everybody out here excited and smiling. The staff has been great, we’ve got [Lyon County Undersheriff] John Koelsch and officers from the police department out here helping, too, along with the students. It’s just really been great to see.”
“There are several clients here that use biking as their main mode of transportation,” Natalie Schnakenberg added. “You can see them all over town. We always want to get more people on bikes no matter who it is or what level they ride. Those that try it really seem to enjoy it, and anyone who wants to try it out today has the opportunity to do so if they haven’t.”
For members of law enforcement, the purpose of the afternoon was twofold. The festivities not only offered a chance to provide fun for members of the community, but also allowed officers to make new connections.
“The Special Olympics and other events like that are law enforcement’s philanthropy, so to speak,” Koelsch said. “Once you see the smile on all their faces, you really get to enjoy this. It’s all about them … From a law enforcement perspective, we want these people to know that they can trust us. We want them to feel safe when they see us, so being able to be here and interact with them while we’re in uniform is really a positive.”
Hetlinger employees said the field day was an important part of performing necessary community outreach, and that they were eager to be able to throw similar events in the future. In the meantime, Executive Director Trudy Hutchinson hopes residents in the Emporia area become better acquainted with all the organization has to offer.
“We would love to have more of a presence in the community,” Hutchinson said. “The public doesn’t always understand what we do here at Hetlinger, so every opportunity we can get to show people is especially great. We serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing day services, and we also have residential services from another provider for clients that still live at home with their families. Anyone that wants to get involved should feel free to give us a call.”
Hetlinger Developmental Services, Inc. can be reached at 342-1087 or by visiting hetlinger.org. The facility is located at 707 S. Commercial St. and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.