PANAMA CITY-- For more than a decade, the Bay County Sheriff's Office has found a way to help local special needs children experience something most of us take for granted.
Deputies work with officials from the Bay County Fair and open the fairgrounds to kids and their parents for free. From the kids to the deputies, it was smiles across the board.
Bay County Sheriff's deputies spent part of their morning Wednesday giving back to kids with special needs.
"Plenty of people to help the kids on and off the rides, we ride the rides with them, and we have a lot of fun," said Bay County Sheriff's Deputy Nick Hall.
Hall showed off his driving skills on the bumper cars while spending some quality time with the kids.
"It's all smiles with the kids, and if you look at the deputies that are here to help and the other volunteers that are here to help, it's all smiles on our faces too," said Hall.
Hall said it's an opportunity for these kids to get the assistance they wouldn't otherwise have if they came to the fair on a regular day.
And teachers said this gives them a chance to learn things outside of the classroom.
"They get to have experience out in the community dealing with other people, being able to use their social skills," said teacher Elizabeth Waldron.
Kids not only were able to interact with deputies from the Sheriff's Office, but also airmen from Tyndall Air Force Base.
Parents said it also takes a load off them, and they are grateful for the help.
"My son's handicapped, so it means a lot that they open it up, and give special time to the handicap children and all the other Bay County Schools," said parent Ashley Bowen
"People come in on their days off and it really makes us happy to be able to do it," another parent said.
Deputies said they look forward to coming back each year, with some even going back to the same kids they spent time during last year's fair.
And the kids never forget it.
"He looks forward to it, as soon as he sees it he knows we are coming," she said.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office adopted the idea from Tyndall Air Force Base, and each year it continues to have great success.