Jeannine Hendrix, left, rides the merry-go-round with her little sister, Dorothy, during Special Need Day on Thursday at the Curry County Fair. Jeannine suffers from Williams Syndrome. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer
Her dark, curly hair flying in the wind, Jeannine Hendrix smiled brightly as she rode a painted white horse.
It was the sixth merry-go-round ride of the day for the 14-year-old Portales resident, who suffers from Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes heart problems, low weight gain, eating problems and developmental delays.
“She (Jeannine) loves this ride,” her mother, Renee Hendrix, said. “She calls it the round and round.”
Jeannine and her family were among the hundreds of people who took part in Thursday’s third annual Special Needs Day at the Curry County Fair.
They were treated to lunch, a tour of the fairgrounds by Rodeo Royalty and free carnival rides.
The event is a chance for mentally and physically handicapped individuals to experience the fair, according to event coordinator Lexie Myers.
“It is all about seeing these kids smile,” Myers said.
Jeannine traveled the fair in a three-wheeled, oversize yellow and blue stroller complete with a zippered, vented cover. Although she is able to walk, R.C. Hendrix said his daughter tires easily.
“She can walk about 150 feet,” he said, “but then she gets tired.”
Renee Hendrix said Jeannine is fed through a tube and is hypersensitive to things as a result of her illness.
To calm her sister, Pam Hendrix handed her a cell phone that played “The William Tell Overture,” commonly known as the theme song for the “Lone Ranger.” According to R.C. Hendrix, the teenager loves music and often communicates through song lyrics.
“She knows the words to thousands of songs,” he said.
Not all the rides set well with Jeannine.
While riding beside her mother in the train car, a raucous recorded cry of a monkey pealed out and frightened Jeannine. She responded by frowning and raising her small hand to her ear.
As she exited the ride, Jeannine was greeted by loving kisses from her father and the comfort zone of her specialized transportation.
R.C. Hendrix was pleased with the fair’s Special Needs Day.
“It’s great,” he said. “The carnies have been wonderful and very patient.”