Reach for the Stars gives special needs children role in Angelina County Fair

Reach for the Stars gives special needs children role in Angelina County Fair
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 8:23 PM CST

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Angelina County Fair is coming up next month.

The event ‘Reach for the Stars’ is an opportunity for special needs children to compete. Exhibitors receive a little help from 4-H and FFA volunteers.

“Nice to meet you Chloe and Blue,” said Luke Whisenant.

The 12-year-old refines his communication and observation skills by meeting a lamb named Blue.

“And he drank too much. Don’t you think?” said Luke, watching Blue when nature called.

All while learning to trust Lufkin High School freshman Chole Stafford, a 4-H and FFA member who owns Blue.

“Look how fat his belly is. Look how big it is,” said Chloe to Luke, a pre-teen who refuses to let autism get in his way of trying new experiences.

“Yeah, we need to work on his belly,” answered Luke.

Together the three will Reach for the Stars in the competition by the same name.

“We’re hoping that these exhibitors in Reach for the Stars show will see that they, too, will have a place in the showring and maybe they’ll join 4-H or FFA one day,” explained volunteer coordinator, Karen Stafford, Chloe’s mom.

The fun has Luke coming back for a third year.

“Well, I showed a goat. And a pig that’s wild,” recalled Luke.

Which Blue can be, if you let him.

Luke lets out a bit of a scream as Blue begins to run, pulling Luke right along. Blue gets away. Chloe comes to the rescue.

“Got him,” she assures.

Luke took it in stride, responding, “Boy, he’s wild.”

But with a little coaching from an experienced exhibitor Luke and Blue get along just fine.

Blue rubs up against Luke’s shirt, wanting more attention.

“Wow, he’s a good snuggler,” noticed Luke.

Chloe gains appreciation for the opportunity to help the special need kids participate in the fair.

“You’re not even thinking about what they can and can’t do. You’re just thinking about what they’re doing right now and that you’re so happy they’re doing it,” said Chloe.

It makes Luke’s dad, Kris Whisenant pretty proud too.

“Any time Luke is able to have social interaction it’s a good because in a very short time he’ll be an adult and be in the real world, so he has to have that foundation.”

Chloe and Luke prepare to load Blue into a trailer.

“Bring him over here and he’ll jump right on in,” Chloe patiently said, which Blue obediently did. “There you go.”

One short lesson and Luke is ready to celebrate the possibilities in the show ring next month.

Reach for the Stars is free to all participants and spectators. Exhibitors and show buddies must pre-register by March 18 at this link under the contest tab.

The event is March 24 at 5p.m. at the George H. Henderson Expo Center’s main arena in Lufkin.

Follow Reach for the Stars Angelina County on Facebook for more details.

For questions, please contact Danielle Chumley, 936-5989 or Karen Stafford at 936-671-0519.

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