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Special holiday party held for Central Texas families with 'medically complex' children

The Special Needs Holiday Party, sponsored by Casey's Circle, is held for families of children with special needs who require lots of medical equipment.

AUSTIN — Not being the center of attention was the theme for some special families at Dell Children's Medical Center on Saturday.

The Special Needs Holiday Party, sponsored by the non-profit Casey's Circle, was a place where families with "medically complex" children could relax and not have to worry about people staring.

Casey's Circle is dedicated to helping families of children with special needs who require lots of medical equipment find ways for their kids to be kids first and patients later.

With this party, the group wanted the kids and their loved ones to forget about their diagnoses and all their equipment for a little while.

It's a sentiment parents like Holly Cole, and her three-year-old son Anderson, appreciate.

"It's nice to feel like you're not the only one -- definitely is. Nobody is staring at us, nobody is staring at him. Nobody is staring at the fact that he has a nurse with him or that he's in a wheelchair," Holly Cole said.

Marty Barnes officially started Casey's Circle in 2016 when her daughter, Casey, passed away at age nine. Casey had been diagnosed with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, or HIE, a brain injury sustained from birth trauma. She was also diagnosed with Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy, seizures and many other HIE side-effects, such as hearing and vision loss.

After losing Casey, Marty Barnes wanted to find a way to help families of children like her daughter be able to have fun at events created just for them.

"So, when you've got a kid with a trach and a vent and carrying around tons of equipment, or they travel or a whole entourage of nurses and therapists and their parents, it's just too much to take them to big public outings," Barnes said.

To learn more about Casey's Circle, click here.