WACO, Texas (KWTX) Members of some area Corvette clubs pitched in to put on a party for a local teenager whose cerebral palsy keeps him from taking part in the coming-of-age ritual of getting a driver’s license.
Ben Ullman in the passenger seat of a Corvette. (Courtesy photo)
On Saturday, friends, family and total strangers came together to surprise Ben Ullman at Bubba’s 33 restaurant with a car-themed 16th birthday party.
“Not being able to get a permit, get a driver’s license at this milestone age when all his peers get to celebrate that way is hard,” his mother, Ashley Ballew, said.
“So it was so special for people we don't even know to come together like that.”
Ashley’s initial idea was to get her son’s wheelchair wrapped to look like a car.
But word spread and before they knew it, members of local Corvette clubs were lining up to help make sure the 16 year-old had a birthday celebration he’d never forget.
“They brought 15 or 20 cars up there. So they came from Temple, Waco, I'm not even sure where all they came from but the smile on his face was amazing.”
The restaurant’s parking lot was filled with Corvettes whose owners took Ben for a spin or just let him sit inside and snap a photo.
It was a surprise in large part planned by Ben’s family and friends at No Limitations, a nonprofit organization that helps those with special needs get a chance to experience such activities as football, cheerleading and Easter-egg hunting.
Ben Castillo has a son who is also in a wheelchair from CP and a part of the organization.
He helped get the car made for Ben’s wheelchair.
“His smile says it all,” Castillo said.
“It was really overwhelming when everything came together. The prop for his chair, the car clubs and especially when we went to take the car off his chair he didn't want to take it off. It shows there is still so much good in this world."
Ben’s mother says the local eatery has been very supportive of local children with special needs, not only providing the location for the party but also a cake for Ben and his new friends to enjoy.
Watching the community rally behind her son on what could have been a hard day is something she’ll too never forget.
“It was really incredible to be able to have that experience,” Ashley said.
“Everyone went above and beyond to give him rides and let him sit in the car and take pictures. And they gave him an experience that I couldn’t in the situation he is in.”
“It was truly the best birthday, ever.”