Dee’s Vision


If anyone needed a reminder of the spirit of the season, they didn’t need to look any further than Dee Bates’ beaming face as she stood in a corner of the Maiden Choice School gymnasium.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” she said, as much to herself as anyone nearby. “Today makes it all worthwhile.”

Before her beamed the students of Maiden Choice, squealing with delight at receiving stuffed animals from Santa, concentrating intently at how a holiday ornament is made, smiling at stars painted on their hands and arms, and cooing at the sweet taste of a freshly made s’mores.


For the third year, Bates has joined with local business and the Make-A-Wish Foundation to bring this holiday celebration to Maiden Choice as an act of personal mission. A professional clown, magician, and children’s entertainer today, she still remembers when, as an adopted child, holidays were precarious at best. And she still remembers the pain of losing her adopted sister, and how that event galvanized her determination to bring joy to the lives of special needs children, like those at Maiden Choice. Her goal is someday to build a ranch for special needs children, a project known to the school as “Dee’s Vision.”

“You know, a lot of these children may not have a lot going on at the holidays,” she says. “This is one way they can come here and learn and have fun and enjoy the season.”

The daylong event featured stations for face-painting and making and tasting s’mores, a story time station by the front office, an arts and crafts station, and places to meet Santa and receive gifts donated by PetSmart, Macy’s, and HOF City Sports Marketing.

Maiden Choice Principal Nancy Briganti noted that many of the activities dovetailed with skills required by students’ individual educational goals, such as working on motor communications skills.

“It’s a lovely day for everyone,” Briganti said. “It always gets the holiday season off on the right foot.”




Story and photos by BCPS Communications Specialist Charles Herndon
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