The Higher Options for People with Exceptionalities (HOPE) Buddy Organization will host its annual Treats at the Track event on Oct. 22 at Vandebilt Catholic High School (VCHS), 209 S. Hollywood Road in Houma. The exciting free event welcomes all persons with disabilities and their families. 

“We are excited to host Treats at the Track for the third year in a row. It is always a great opportunity to build community and offer fellowship,” Director of the VCHS HOPE Program Gretta Jo Colongne said. “The HOPE Buddies, as well as our sports teams and co-curricular clubs, are excited to meet new friends and share in the excitement of trick-or-treating with our guests.”

From 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., attendees will be treated to games, prizes, candy, music and more at the VCHS track area. 

Guests are encouraged to wear costumes to the event, too. 

Although the event has Halloween-themed music, decorations and costumes, the HOPE organization always takes the proper steps to make sure it is a safe space for those with special needs. 

“It's safe; it's well lit. There will be nothing scary. The music will be there, but it won't be overbearing,” Colongne explained. “All of the games and activities are geared towards our special needs community. So, all of those things are taken into consideration, from the games to the prizes to the decorating.” 

Visitors can contribute to the HOPE organization and Treats at the Track by bringing canned goods to the event for HOPE’s fall can drive. 

The HOPE program was initiated at VCHS five years ago. The program offers “developmentally delayed students a modified academic inclusion program designed to meet each student’s academic and spiritual needs and to prepare students for the transition to life after high school,” reads a press release by the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. 

HOPE Buddies are students who volunteer their time to advocate for people with special needs. They also are there for students in the HOPE program by aiding or guiding them in daily classes and extracurricular activities. 

“Our HOPE Buddies work with our students and our faculty to make sure that our HOPE students are included as much as possible,” Colongne said. “…Our Buddies will sit with them at mass and make sure they're not by themselves at lunch. They make sure our HOPE students are participating fully in the Vandebilt community.” 

Anyone wanting to support the students in the HOPE program can call the Vandebilt Catholic Brothers Hall at (985) 580-1868 for information on how to donate. 

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