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Dad opens ice cream truck with his 2 children with Down syndrome


Giovanna Binci - published on 10/07/21

Their new business venture is going "beyond all expectations."

When when Joel Wegener realized how hard the world out there was for his two children with Down syndrome, the father of 10 made a decision. In his hometown of Cincinnati, with his children, he opened an ice cream truck. From April to July of this year they had sold 5,000 ice cream treats and desserts, going “beyond all expectations,” Wegener tells WLWT

“It’s about an experience for everybody, but to give my kids something to do and show other parents maybe there is something creative, out of the box, that we can come up for our family and for our kids to do.”

Being special shouldn’t limit your dreams

It’s difficult for kids like Mary Kate, 21, and Josh, 18, not only to have their dream job, but to even have a job at all. But despite the fact that many countries and states have legislation to prohibit discrimination, legal measures are not enough to make it a reality.

This is a hard reality to digest in a culture that talks a lot about dreams and inclusion. Unfortunately, society is often not willing to put inclusion into practice in real life.

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A post shared by Special Neat Treats (@specialneattreats)

Inclusion: Deeds and not just words

Our society still isn’t willing to make room for everyone, unfortunately. The numbers of abortions due to diagnoses like that of Josh and Mary Kate speak for themselves. 

Fortunately, where legal obligations are ineffective, the hearts of dads such as Joel Wegener come to remind us that there’s no need to be afraid of diversity and difference. We can solve the problem with determination, creativity, and even whipped cream and sprinkles (it never hurts)!

“Special Neat Treats” sells ice cream and hope

Wegener bought the ice cream truck from a family who have a special needs daughter, and had worked it with their own children. It’s a white van, decorated with stickers that reflect the 90s more than the latest trends. The sign says it all: “Special Neat Treats.” That title is the creative touch by their mom Freida, a play on words referring to “special needs.”

“It’s much more than selling ice cream,” says Joel, and it’s true: They sell joy in the form of ice cream and chocolate, but also hope, and that’s free. 

There are no second-class people or jobs

Wegener is providing hope for his kids and for many families who witness a small dream come true. Wegener told KLove News podcast:

For some reason, God said, “We’re going to take this simple little idea and we’re going to make something big out of it.”

We want to be a lighthouse. We want people to see Christ in the way that we handle this whole endeavor. Our family just wants it to be a means where Christ is lifted up, even in an ice cream truck in some way.

Down SyndromeInspiring storiesParenting
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