The day – Special needs support group hosts a Halloween event
Montville – Children dressed as Baby Yoda and Superman handed out their bags on Sunday and said “trick or treat” as they approached tables run by volunteers at the town’s community center.
The rainy weather prompted a move indoors for Brady’s Brigade’s second annual Trick or Trunk event, but that didn’t matter to Brady Conoza, dressed as a skeleton, who said he was prepared for that. As a rule, children go to the backs of cars to collect candy.
Brady, who has autism, is the founder of Brady’s Brigade, a support group created for children and their families in the special needs / disabled community that offers free monthly events at the community center.
The group started in 2016 when Brady, then 9, had a question about the weight of his blanket that he felt he had no one to ask. His mother, Corine Conoza, who is on several Facebook groups, said he would message support groups with his questions.
It was then that Brady got the idea to get together with other autistic children in his area and work on his social skills. Now 14, Brady helps organize events and would ask people to register for Sunday’s event. Brady’s Brigade has over 700 likes on its Facebook page.
“He’s a generous child,” said Ryan Conoza, Brady’s father. “It’s not about me, not my wife – it’s all about him. We’re just here to support him.”
Corine Conoza said they have three families with autistic children who regularly come to the group’s monthly meetings.
Karen Rent and her family have been attending Brady’s Brigade for two years. His 7-year-old son is developmentally delayed, and Rent said going to the support group was a great way for him and his brother, who doesn’t have autism, to socialize.
“It’s something that we look forward to every month,” she said.
Although Brady’s Brigade is a support group for people with special needs, Brady said they open their events to everyone.
Volunteers and most Sunday spoilers heard about the event on Facebook.
Aimée Suchomel was there to decorate the entrance like a haunted construction site. She was dressed as a traffic cone, her daughter as a construction worker and her son as a skeleton hidden in the trash.
Suchomel said it was his first thing or wrong with Brady’s brigade. She said Corine Conoza posted on her Neighbors to Neighbors Facebook group page, asking for volunteers to decorate and distribute candy.
Hosting a table decorated like Andy’s bed from “Toy Story,” a Texas Roadhouse marketing team handed out kid lollipops with free kids meals and stickers.
Sandra and Melissa Truex, wife and daughter of Fire Chief Keith Truex of Chesterfield Fire Co., also had a table with candy.
Melissa said she saw Conoza’s post on Buy Nothing, a Facebook group that advocates doing things to help others, and wanted to be a part of it. Melissa, who considers herself a neurodiversity awareness advocate, was showing off a sensory kit that first responders can use for children with autism. She also distributed cards “I have autism”, intended for children of the spectrum to give to the police with their name and their information.
For their next event, Corine Conoza said they hope to bring back their “Friendsgiving” event.
“We want people to know this group exists,” Rent said of the group, which can be found on Facebook at Brady’s Brigade Special Needs Support Group for Kids.