The Special Abilities Family Fun Event is expected to draw thousands of attendees on Sept. 15. Before the attendees can spend SAFFE Day 2018 making memories and having fun, all eyes will be on two very important people: the SAFFE Day Ambassadors. These two represent the event to the community but they also directly take part in it.
“The ambassadors are selected through the SAFFE Day board of directors and members of the community nominate the candidates. The board members can also nominate the candidates,” said Josie Atchley, SAFFE Day coordinator and spokeswoman.
The ambassadors, who act as the face of SAFFE Day, have several responsibilities leading up to and on the day of the event.
“They actually participate because they’ll be kind of front and center,” Atchley said. “They will be opening SAFFE Day at our opening ceremony at 9 o’clock.”
The ambassadors also travel to other events to promote SAFFE Day and generate interest in the event to attract new attendees, vendors and sponsors.
“They will represent us when we go to different locations. Anything that is SAFFE Day-related, they are invited to and they represent us. Throughout the whole year, any event that is related to special needs, they will usually represent SAFFE Day when they attend,” Atchley said.
At one time, SAFFE Day only had one ambassador but, according to Atchley, the organization now tries to find one adult ambassador and one youth ambassador. This year, “Bubba T” Terry was chosen to be the adult ambassador and Juliann Gee was selected as the youth ambassador.
The ambassadors put forth a lot of hard work but their efforts are rewarded with special privileges on the day of the event.
“They love being there. It’s a very special day and it is extra special for them. They get to go to the front of the lines, kind of like a VIP pass. We have trading cards made at a photo shoot that they can hand out to guests so they get to hand out their trading cards as well,” Atchley said.
This year’s youth ambassador, Juliann Gee, is no stranger to SAFFE Day. She and her mom, Misty, have been attending the event for years and it is very important to them.
“It’s a good thing,” Misty said. “It brings awareness to something that’s really important. It’s a combination of spreading awareness and a fun event. Sometimes people are intimidated by someone that’s different so this lets people interact. These kids are innocent and they want to be just like everybody else. When you see them come up and enjoy it and put on their SAFFE Day shirt and their cape they feel like a superhero. It’s awesome just to see those smiles on their faces.”
Misty and Juliann’s feelings about SAFFE Day reflect what the event means to its attendees: a chance for people who overcome difficulties in their daily lives to relax and have fun.
Everything at SAFFE Day is provided free of charge so those who attend don’t have to worry about buying a ticket, paying for rides or even finding money for snacks and concessions. This is done because many attendees are already dealing with huge amounts of expense for costly medical treatments, therapy and equipment. SAFFE Day is one day where everything is provided just for them.
“It means a lot to me and my family,” Misty said. It’s just a good day.”