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  • Writer's pictureSMILE

SMILE in the Mirror

With a two-week streak of sunshine and summer blooming in bursts, our guys have been busy experiencing the season. Summer kicked off with a backroads-country drive over to Scranberry Coop in Andover. There Carl, Nate, Steven, and Andrew ravaged the many nooks and crannies of antiques, laughed playing dress up, and came away with some fun finds to add to their SMILE home. After the coup, came the Cranberry Lake Bridge where the guys took a leisurely stroll and found some swans, which followed them throughout their trek.

After their stroll, the guys went to a local Craft Fair, which was held at St. Judes church over on Maxim Drive. They really enjoyed mingling with the Hopatcong community there and found some very unique items while perusing the many vendors that attended. After unpacking their purchases back home, the guys prepared themselves for a carnival over at Horseshoe Lake in Roxbury. The carnival boasted many rides and games, which the guys enjoyed, but for them, the real highlight was the 9th Annual N.J. State Hot Dog Eating Contest. The guys thought this was awesome and Steven made several attempts to become a late registered participant. Though his attempts to compete were unsuccessful, Steven insists that he would have destroyed the competition and looks forward to the 10th annual contest.

Later in the week, the guys prepared themselves for a semi-formal dance hosted by Friendship Group. The event was a huge success with delicious food and dazzling decorations. The SMILE guys danced the night away with the joy of movement and solidarity. Big thanks to all the parents and members of Friendship Group for all they did to make the evening so special.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, SMILE hosted some close personal friends for dinner in Andrew, Bruce, and Joann Taylor. Andrew Taylor is a great personal friend of SMILE’s own Andrew and Nate. They have been schoolmates, track-mates, and great friends for years now. Bruce and Joann Taylor have been wonderful advocates for their son and all individuals with developmental disabilities. Their passion has helped so many individuals over the years, including SMILE’s own residents, and we cherish their avidity, commitment, and friendship. While they were over, we sat out on the deck, grilled some burgers and dogs, and shared stories until the sun said it was time to call it a day. The Taylors will be moving down to Florida soon and we wish them the absolute best in all they do. We look forward to maintaining that long-distance friendship.

In the midst of this busy schedule, Carl still made sure to get over to the Hopatcong Civic Center in order to cast his votes for the upcoming elections. He is very proud of his contribution to the community and looks forward to seeing his selections triumphant.

Also this past Friday, Andrew Hertel participated in the Special Olympic Summer Games at The College of New Jersey. Andrew competed in the 50-meter dash, the mini-javelin throw, and the 4 x 100 relay. Andrew brought home some medals, including a gold, but it was his true embodiment of the Special Olympic Spirit that makes us so deeply delighted. Andrew competes with skill, courage, and joy in his heart. He cheers on his teammates with equal enthusiasm and never wavers in his empathetic support. We are so proud of you Andrew!

While Andrew was competing, Carl, Nate, and Steven competed for Mini-golf supremacy at Friday’s Friendship Group over at The Golf Zone in Flanders. As usual, the guys had an amazing time hanging with all their friends. This kicked off a fun-filled weekend, which included a fishing event hosted by the Knee Deep Club over at Memorial Park in Mount Arlington. The fishing event consisted of dozens of community members celebrating the season by fishing in fully stocked waters and grilling up some summer treats to share. Big thanks to the Knee Deep Club for the personal invitation. It was a wonderful day and we look forward to the next event.

As the summer season continues, so do the SMILE adventures. We hope you all take time to enjoy the sunshine and perhaps join us on an adventure or two. As always, remember to be the SMILE in someone’s day.

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