DSCC Dad Helps Superheroes of All Abilities Unite in Southern Illinois
Pastor Tim Reynolds organizes the annual Special Needs Superheroes event to take place in Mount Vernon on Oct. 28
In Mount Vernon, superheroes of all kinds unite each year to bring joy to children and adults with disabilities.
Mount Vernon Baptist Temple’s annual Special Needs Superheroes event encourages individuals of all ages and abilities to dress as their favorite superhero and enjoy fall activities together. This popular free celebration returns for its fifth year on Oct. 28.
Pastor Tim Reynolds helped create the event and credits his wife, Melissa, and a dedicated group of volunteers with keeping it running. Reynolds’ daughter Isabella has complex medical needs and is a participant with the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC).
Reynolds said the idea for the event came from a desire to serve his small community in southern Illinois.
“It can be hard for families and individuals with disabilities to go to a theme park. We have a church with a good layout, nice grounds, and a gymnasium,” Reynolds said. “I pastor two churches, and we decided to work together to create a special day for young and old alike that was as close to a carnival atmosphere as possible.”
Choosing a superheroes theme, the first event kicked off in 2018.
“I’m not sure why we chose the superheroes theme, but it fit, and it’s lots of fun. The first year we had about 400 attendees,” Reynolds said.
The event continued to grow each year except for a one-year gap in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year we’re planning for more than 800 guests. We have a bunch of folks who love Comic-Con. They have amazing costumes and travel from Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana and other places to help us year after year,” Reynolds said.
Volunteers from churches, 4-H clubs, government, and more serve as “buddies.” They help participants of all ages and abilities experience activities that include:
- A petting zoo and horseback rides
- Face painting and games
- Balloon tying with Rainbow the Clown
- Superhero photos
- Brats, hamburgers, snow cones and popcorn
“It’s just a big kick. Some people like dressing up, others just like taking it all in,” Reynolds said. “I really love the horseback riding and seeing them with the animals. For some, it’s the first time they’ve ever ridden a horse or been able to touch and be up close to these animals. They’re so uninhibited in expressing their excitement and joy. You can’t help smiling all over.”
The guest list also includes community members and residents from area Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) Homes.
The whole Reynolds family, including Isabella and her three older siblings, also take part in the fun.
Reynolds said his wife, Melissa, organizes all the details for the superheroes event. She prefers to remain in the background while he is “just the promoter and front man.”
“She is the rock of our family and works tirelessly caring for Isabella,” Reynolds said.
Isabella has Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause paralysis, an inability to smile and other disabilities.
“We adopted her as a baby and the doctor said she wouldn’t live past a year old,” Reynolds said. “She’s a happy girl and recently turned 12.”
Isabella enrolled with DSCC shortly after birth and receives services through the Home Care Program. The Home Care Program helps children and young adults who need in-home nursing to safely live at home.
“We connected with DSCC at the hospital and really appreciate all that they do,” Reynolds said. “DSCC has helped us track down nursing services and medical equipment. They’re always there to help and are another go-to when you need help filling in the gaps.”
Members of our DSCC team from the St. Clair Regional Office will be at this year’s Special Needs Superheroes event to speak with families about our services.
The event takes place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Mount Vernon Baptist Temple, 817 Woodland Drive, in Mount Vernon. There is no charge to attend.
“Everything is completely free,” Reynolds emphasized. “There’s nothing better than the smiles and hugs you get from kids with sno-cone-covered faces. We started all of this to be a blessing to someone, but I think we, the volunteers, are truly the ones who go away blessed.”
If you’d like to attend, please call or text (618) 315-1111 to register. The deadline to sign up is Oct. 23.