SUGAR GROVE – Joe Kryszak was recognized for bringing an annual carnival day for special needs kids with sensory issues to Elburn Days during the Kaneland Board of Education meeting on Sept. 9.
Krsyzak, a longtime member of Lions Club who has been coordinating the amusement rides for Elburn Days among other past initiatives, has worked with Fran Eggleston, Kaneland District’s director of special services, to make such an important and rewarding special event happen.
While being honored, Kryszak turned the tables and deflected the attention by presenting an award on behalf of the Elburn Lions Club, which hosts the Elburn Days carnival, to Eggleston for her perseverance in making this unique, rare event something beyond special for these kids and their families and friends.
Explaining how difficult it can be to create an invitation list for this special day, Kryszak praised Eggleston’s efforts.
“I get these calls of ‘How come my kid who is special needs isn’t invited?’ and it’s hard to say no,” Kryszak said. “And I get quite a few of them, but I have a person named Fran who gets even more and we should appreciate what she goes through.”
And then he handed her an award.
“We have a Distinguished Service Award presented to Francine Eggleston for perseverance,” Kryszak said. “For bringing the special needs carnival for kids with sensory issues carnival to fruition.”
As for his involvement, Kryszak explained his reasoning.
“For the Lions Club, this is what we do, we help those less fortunate,” he said. “For me, it’s easy-peasy. All you have to do is surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
Like the young mother who, while attending Elburn Days a few years ago, recognized that her son couldn’t go on the rides because he couldn’t tolerate the flashing lights while standing in line. That sprung the 75-year-old Kryszak into action. And now, this past August was the fourth straight year that Kryszak and the Lions Club hosted such an event.
“Mr. Kryszak was awesome enough to contact Fran and start discussions of what it would be like for a couple of hours (of rides and entertainment, etc.) for students with special needs and their family and friends with less noise and distractions,” said Dr. Todd Leden, superintendent for Kaneland. “And it’s continued for four years.”
Eggleston recalled one child having a meltdown during the carnival, but the mom didn’t panic because she was with a bunch of other parents who have kids with the same needs so she didn’t have to worry about it.
“It’s so awesome,” she said. “And not everybody knows that about some of these kids and what they go through.”
One has to wonder what was going through Eggleston’s mind when Kryszak handed her an award.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I had no idea. He’s so nice. I think it’s awesome what he does and his commitment to kids. He’s just so well connected and so well respected as well.”
So many families have been blessed to enjoy something that previously wasn’t a possibility. Whether it’s for one family or one thousand, that’s what makes it all worthwhile for Eggleston and Kryszak.
“I enjoy doing it and I don’t do it for any acclamation at all,” Eggleston said. “I appreciate that he’s willing to think about our kids that way, and I know a lot of our parents and our kids would never have been able to participate in something like this without worrying about where their kid was going and so on. This way they are able to relax and really enjoy watching their kid have a good time.”