GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - A center for special needs kids in Gonzales is thriving despite vandals' efforts to destroy it.
In April, thieves came and wrecked the center for the fourth time in less than a year.
Just beyond the doors of the old G.W. Carver Primary School gymnasium is a world of wonder for more than 300 special needs children in Ascension and in surrounding parishes. Everything from basketball to billiards, electronic games, art and more is ready and waiting for participants of what is known as "Special Tuesday."
They spend six Tuesdays of their summer vacation reuniting with old friends, meeting new ones, and learning new things.
Mandi Miller has been part of the program for 15 years.
"Put it this way, yes, we are handicapped and we have disabilities, but we love Special Tuesday," Miller said.
Some of them love it so much, they show up early just to help Director Bobbie Blanchard and her team of volunteers set up.
Braylan Jenkins likes to help his new friend, Brandon Delbosque, man the grill. Delbosque donated $5,000 to Special Tuesday to help replace what thieves stole.
Blanchard said she was soon hit with more donations from area businesses.
"I looked around and I said, you know they are right, I am going to do this. We are going to do it, and so many friends and family stepped in to help us continue," Blanchard said.
Blanchard said seeing the familiar faces walk through those doors, the excitement in their eyes, hearing a heartfelt "thank you" have made the challenges well worth it.
"When you look at my special children and you get the hugs and you see the smiles, nothing can surpass that," Blanchard said.
The vandals were never identified. If you know who they might be, call Crime Stoppers at 344-7867.