William and WhirliDogs
Originally published 8/7/2021
My family has enthusiastically watched the plans develop for the formation of WhirliDogs. I am so proud of the Wilson community for pulling together and putting this idea into motion. My son, William, was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2 years old, and I have hoped for more opportunities for him in Wilson. One of our biggest challenges for William’s childhood has been finding people and places that will accept him just as he is. Adults with special needs deserve a place that welcomes them for employment, and children with special needs deserve to grow up with options ahead of them. I feel like Whirlidogs is an answer to my hopes and prayers for my son’s future.
One reason my family loves the WhirliDogs concept is that it involves one of my son’s favorite things: food. Through all the trials of Autism – and there are many, including neurological, digestive and sleep dysfunctions – food has proven to be our biggest motivator for William. Want William to master a new skill? Try positive reinforcement with gummy worms…works every time. Want to stop a meltdown? Give that sweet boy a sugar free popsicle and those screams will fade away with every slurp. I admit it…I bribe my kid on the daily. Let’s be honest…who doesn’t use food for entertainment and rewards for their children? Food is love. For most kids, hot dogs and ice cream are hard to beat. The people involved in planning the WhirliDogs business model appreciate the appeal of a tasty treat not only for our special needs population, but for all of us.
The WhirliDogs team is also working hard to teach their future employees all about food preparation and safety (especially important during these challenging COVID-19 times), AND they are making efforts to be inclusive of all kinds of eaters with a variety of products offered – vegetarian options and fun toppings that challenge the basic hot dog. As a foodie, I am impressed with what they are offering.
It’s also been exciting to watch WhirliDogs collaborate with other Wilson groups to raise money for this opportunity. Many businesses in downtown Wilson are growing their awareness and support of people with special needs. Additionally, my family has been thrilled to see the generosity of the many donors who are making the opening of WhirliDogs possible…and soon.
As a parent, I am grateful that my son William is growing up in a city that values him, cares for his future, and is seeking to build his self-worth by giving him and his peers a chance to earn a living. Many thanks to all of you interested people for supporting this business – we will look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on its employees’ lives!
Jessica Stewart Davis