Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Special needs kids get wish

February 19. 2013 9:32PM
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LUZERNE – Gina Masters has long dreamed of the day her 9-year-old son, Logan, could sit on Santa's lap and tell him what he wants for Christmas.

Each year she'd take him to a local mall to see the jolly old man, but Logan could never stand in line long enough to fulfill his wish.

Logan suffers from a chromosomal disorder known as Smith-Magenis syndrome, a condition that affects his mobility and behavior and precludes him from participating in many of the joys that traditional children partake in at the holidays, his mother said.

This Sunday he'll get a very special visit with Santa thanks to The Grille restaurant in Luzerne, which is hosting a breakfast with Santa geared toward special-needs children.

Gina Masters worked with The Grille to arrange the breakfast to provide Logan and other special-needs children an opportunity to be just like every other kid.

That was never possible for Logan, whose medical condition causes him to exhibit behaviors similar to autism, she said. He has a short attention span and becomes overly excited whenever there is sensory overload, like the hustle and bustle of the mall at Christmas time.

There are different things in the environment that other children and parents might take for granted. With a special-needs boy or girl you have to consider if it's too crowded, if there are loud noises or sudden changes, like someone coming too close, she said.

The owners of The Grille are taking care to address those special needs for him, ensuring, for example, that the children won't be crowded together and that the wait time for Santa's lap will be short, she said.

Marty Seitz, co-owner of the restaurant, said he was happy to accommodate the request. The Masters are frequent customers, dining at the restaurant for breakfast every other Sunday.

Whenever he's here he has a good time, Seitz said. He gets all excited because all the waitresses play with him.

Each child will receive a small gift and have the opportunity to have his or her picture taken for free. Families are also invited to enjoy breakfast at their own cost if they desire, Gina Masters said.

Masters is hopeful that this year Logan's Santa wish will come true.

He talks about Santa all the time, Masters said. This year he wanted to do a breakfast because he heard other kids talking about it. He's getting older and can't understand why he can't do things other children can.

If you go

The Grille restaurant, 588 Union St., Luzerne, is hosting a breakfast with Santa geared toward children with special needs on Sunday from 7 to 10 a.m. Each child will receive a small free gift. Parents and children are also invited to dine at their own cost. For more information, contact Gina Masters at 570-762-8407.

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