MMI's inaugural Trunk or Treat draws big crowd

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | November 06, 2017

Image with caption: The Eldal family -- Brad, Mary, Lois and Alex -- came from Elk Horn, Iowa, to attend the event.

The Eldal family -- Brad, Mary, Lois and Alex -- came from Elk Horn, Iowa, to attend the event.

Nearly 200 children attended the first Trunk or Treat event held Sunday, Oct. 29, outside the Munroe-Meyer Institute.

The event was designed as a fun and easy way for families with children with disabilities and complex health care needs to trick or treat, with MMI departments and partners distributing candy from the trunks of decorated cars.

picture disc.
From left, Jennifer Hansen, Sarah Swanson and Mandi Reinders
Organizers recruited 25 "trunks" for the event, including MMI departments, the MMI board of directors, community partners such as PTI Nebraska and Scottish Rite, and three managed-care organizations, United Healthcare, Totalcare and WellCare.

The result was "a major success," said organizer Mandi Reinders, who with fellow Family Care Enhancement Project staffers Jennifer Hansen and Sarah Swanson spearheaded the event for MMI.

"Everything went well, everyone had fun, there were no issues whatsoever," Reinders said.

Micah Evans of Scottish Rite, manning a trunk in a knight costume, called the event fantastic and was impressed to see so many of the MMI departments represented at the event.

He said he felt it was important for the Scottish Rite, which supports the MMI Speech and Language Pathology Department, to have a presence, as well.

"We want to represent our department and to get the word out about what we're doing and how we're able to help the kids," he said. "To just get out and give away some candy is a fun and easy way to do that."

Barry Eldal and his wife Lois, whose son receives services from the MMI occupational therapy, physical therapy pediatric feeding and speech departments, came from Elk Horn, Iowa -- a nearly 70-mile drive -- to attend the event.

"Our kids are thoroughly enjoying it," he said. "We heard about the event from one of your staff members, and we decided we were going to make it a top priority for this weekend to come here. It's kid-friendly, there's no loud music -- and this place is such a neat place that helps very special kiddos.

"This is superb," he added. "It's an event that I know the kids are going to remember."

MMI Director Karoly Mirnics, M.D., Ph.D., said the event provided a safe and accessible Halloween experience for children with disabilities and complex health care needs.

"Halloween can be challenging for some of our families," he said. "This event was an attempt to address what we saw as a need in the community, and I am proud of the way the entire institute worked together to make our inaugural effort a success."

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