KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A special event hosted by the Kansas City Mavericks and Variety KC on Monday, the first ever here in the metro, provided memories for families of special needs children.
The event was held at the Centerpoint Community Ice rink and provided the families a chance to skate and play sled hockey.
James Arkell, the son-in-law of Kansas City Mavericks owner Lamar Hunt Jr., helped organize the event.
As he told 41 Action News, he knows what it's like to raise a child with special needs.
"Michael is three years old and he has a very rare genetic condition," Arkell said, walking with his son around the ice on Monday. "He's non-verbal and can't walk."
Knowing the hard work and sacrifice parents experience when raising a child with special needs, Arkell said he felt a need to provide an event for families.
"There's nothing better than having a kid like Michael in our lives, but it is hard and we get stares," he explained. "Any opportunity we get to act like a normal family, it's awesome. This is an opportunity for us to act as a normal family."
Work began on Monday's event around one year ago.
Arkell said he worked closely with Variety KC Children's Charity Executive Director Deborah Wiebrecht to gather donations and equipment to make the event possible.
"She had the idea, based on our connection to the hockey team, to bring adaptive skating to Kansas City and adaptive hockey," he explained.
Seeing the event unfold on Monday brought joy to Arkell.
"It's an opportunity for everybody to come out and have a good time as a family," he explained. "Seeing other families having this much fun and the joy on these kids faces getting to experience something they wouldn't normally get to experience makes it all worth it."
Waco Porter was one of the family members who got to witness all the fun on the ice on Monday.
His 14-year-old daughter, Simone, rode around on a hockey sled for much of the event with a smile on her face.
"It's amazing for her to be able to get down on the ice and play a little hockey, which she's never done," he said.
Waco, too, knows the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
Simone's childhood featured around 30 different surgeries and multiple seizures as she lived with a variety of special needs, including cerebral palsy.
On Monday, Waco said it was special to share a fun experience with her on the ice.
"Some things we used to be able to do, we can't do. We can do this here today and we're here," he explained. "Anything I can do with her where she's having a good time and actively participating in it I love that."
Variety KC and the Mavericks worked with the City of Independence to help make Monday's event possible.
Moving forward, the two groups hope to hold more events together in the future.