HITCHCOCK — Special Kids Day is a favorite among the volunteers at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo.
Kelsey Nelson, 15, has been volunteering at Special Kids Day for five years.
“My sister did it, and she always had a good time, so I wanted to do it, too,” Nelson said.
This is the 31st year of the event, and schools from as far as Needville attended. The rides open early and activities such as carnival fishing, bubbles, treasure hunts and hayrides are available to entertain the kids.
Nelson has become a pro at the face-painting station near the livestock barn. She’s mastered the art of drawing hearts, flowers and butterflies on the cheeks of children.
Out of all the volunteer days at the fair, she looks forward to this day the most.
“I just like the smiles it brings to the kids’ faces,” she said.
Kelsey Moffett, another volunteer, said the memories keep her coming back.
“Last year, there were a lot of funny kids,” she said, smiling. “Some kid asked me to paint Will Smith on his face.”
Five-year-old Nala Best didn’t have Will Smith on her cheeks, but a butterfly and a lady bug instead.
In the arms of her physical therapist, Tanya Jensen, Nala smiled as she got to pet a camel in the petting zoo.
She enjoyed visiting the livestock area and getting to see the animals.
“I went to look at the chickens and tried not to be scared,” she said. “My favorite part was watching the goats.”
Jensen has attended Special Kids Day for five years and said the improvements made to the sidewalk have made it more accessible so children like Nala can get around easier.
“I was really excited that she was able to drive her power wheelchair,” she said, “She’s been driving it all over all by herself.”
Nala attends the preschool program for children with disabilities at Bay Colony Elementary and will be in kindergarten next year.
Her mother, Erika Best, said she’s been excited for Special Kids day all week.
“I’ve been looking forward to giving her the chance to do things that most kids can do that she theoretically should not be able to do,” Best said. “She gets that normalcy in life that all the other kids do.”
Nala’s next stop at the fair was the carnival.
“She’s very enthusiastic about the rides,” her mother said.