Kilgore’s eighth annual Special Abilities Family Fun Event is just over a month away but organizers have been hard at work since last year to prepare for the event, which offers free activities, games, fun and food to people with special needs and their families.

“We’ve been working and planning for a long time. We started in October of last year to get ready. We had a meeting to discuss pros and cons (of the event) to figure out what our improvements should be and we’ve been working since then on those improvements and things we need to change,” said Kilgore Fire Department Chief Johnny Bellows, who has been working on the event since its beginning.

Bellows said he hopes this year’s event is bigger and better than ever.

“We have some new entertainment that will happen onstage that we haven’t had in the past,” he said, adding that the event had drawn more than 3,500 people last year and hoped even more showed up this year.

“It has continued to progress to get bigger and better every year.”

Bellows said the SAFFE Day board members had selected this year’s SAFFE Day Ambassadors, who help to promote the event and get special privileges at the event for their hard work.

This year’s ambassadors are both Kilgoreites, Mason Riley and Sergio Najera.

“They’re our local heroes this year,” Bellows said.

The theme of this year’s SAFFE Day is “Shoot For The Moon”, a nod to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Meredeth Brown, also a SAFFE Day organizer, said she is hopeful the hard work of volunteers will make this the best SAFFE Day yet.

“We work pretty much year-round to pull this off,” Brown said.

“We are hopeful that we can increase our numbers and make an even better event for our special needs guests and their families.”

Brown said organizers are working on bringing in new activities for guests to enjoy and some activities are still in the works.

“We have quite a few vendors already signed up who will be providing activities for our guests and registrations are coming in really well.”

She added the main of goal of SAFFE Day is a simple one: to provide a safe and fun environment for guests to enjoy themselves.

“A lot of the guests and families, they look forward to this event all year long. Every year, they’re always super excited for it to come around. We just want to offer a day full of family fun and excitement. It’s just a really good time, a free event to come and just be a family and make memories.”

Bellows offered a reminder to guests: everything at SAFFE Day is free of charge to participants and their families. Anyone traveling over 50 miles to attend SAFFE Day can have a motel room provided to them free of charge so they don’t have to get up early to travel the day of the event.

“If anyone knows anyone with special needs, please remind them of the event and spread the word. We’d like to have more people this year than last year,” Bellows said.

SAFFE Day can always use more volunteers and Bellows promised it is a worthwhile experience.

“They are guaranteed to be rewarded and we’ll give them a free t-shirt for volunteering.”

SAFFE Day will be held in downtown Kilgore Saturday, Sept. 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also, there will be a SAFFE Day movie night at 4 Star Cinema on Hwy. 259 Thursday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. The feature will be “E.T. the Extraterrestrial.”

“It’s free for anyone with any disability and their families. Popcorn and drinks will be provided free of charge,” Bellow said.

To register to attend SAFFE Day, visit www.SAFFEDay.org. To learn more and keep track of updates, visit www.Facebook.com/SAFFEDay.

SAFFE Day is always offered free of charge to participants and is supported by donations. To make a donation to the event, visit City Hall and mark the donation for “Kilgore Fire Department – SAFFE Day.”

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