Originally posted on Spectrum Local News.
By Spectrum News Staff | July 24, 2017 @1:32 PM
Fantastic Friends of Western New York celebrated summer the right way by spending the day at the beach Sunday. It was the first Special Paddle at Woodlawn Beach, where kids and adults with special needs got to learn how to kayak and paddleboard. Fantastic Friends hosts monthly themed social functions that take place at different locations across Western New York. This group started with one woman from New Jersey after her twin brother was diagnosed with autism. “I started this group when I was 15 and I started a small group in New Jersey and people started hearing about what we do and it has expanded over the past six years all over the country,” said Marissa Hacker, founder of Fantastic Friends of WNY. The Western New York chapter got started when Hacker reached out on Facebook to a woman whose son has autism. She says group functions like this are not only important for the kids to make friends, but for the families as well. “It’s very important to the families as well because there’s nothing better than seeing your child, especially your special needs child, happy and having fun and making friends,” said Debbie Cordone, executive director of Fantastic Friends of WNY. The non-profit hopes to establish a Fantastic Friends special needs community center.