Raleigh church holds annual carnival for special needs children Saturday

sgilman@newsobserver.comApril 25, 2014 

— Brooks Avenue Church of Christ will host its annual spring carnival for children with special needs on Saturday

The carnival will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church, 700 Brooks Ave. Children with special needs and their families will be able to enjoy train rides, face painting, bounce houses, games, a petting zoo and a talent display from the Spin-Man, also known as Noel Brandon.

“I think he’s up to 19 basketballs that he can spin at one time,” said Melinda Oldham, coordinator for the church’s special needs ministry.

The church does not charge for the event. Golden Corral will provide a free lunch, and everyone who comes will leave with a bag of toys and coupons for local businesses.

Barry and Paula Woodhouse started the event in 2000 in honor of their daughter Melissa, now 22, who has Smith-Magenis syndrome. It’s a rare development disorder that has left her mentally handicapped and unable to live on her own.

At the time, there was a lack of activities just for children with special needs, Barry Woodhouse said. When the Woodhouses began planning the carnival, Ted Fowler, fellow churchgoer and CEO of Golden Corral, stepped in to help.

“He gave me his card and said, ‘Whatever you need,’ ” Woodhouse said.

The first event brought in 350 people, and attendance has grown to about 1,000.

“We’ve about outgrown the church, so we will have to find somewhere else to go,” Woodhouse said with a chuckle.

Daughter Melissa loves the carnival as much as anyone.

“She doesn’t really understand that she was the impetus for it, but she looks forward to it every year and invites everyone to it,” he said. “She’s a sweet child. A sweet child. And we’ve been blessed.”

For more information, call the church at 919-821-2400.

Gilman: 919-829-8955

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