Party participants play musical chairs during Thursday’s event. (Austin Weatherman/Lariat)
The Saddleback College Super Friends Club held its annual Halloween Costume Party on Thursday, Oct. 27 in the Student Services Center, Room 212. Members of the special needs-oriented club invited their family and friends to an evening of buffet-style food, games, dancing and the much-anticipated costume contest. 150 individuals attended Thursday’s event, putting a smile on the face of club president Michael Cullen.
Cullen and his club officers spent the month planning for Thursday’s event, making him ecstatic for the large turnout. He said that he really enjoyed seeing everyone happy, and even lead the party in the “Cha Cha Slide.”
“All of it was amazing,” Cullen said. “I had a smile on my face the entire night. It gives me joy to watch the kids have such a good time.”
Sophomore John West attended the party Thursday evening, dressed as construction worker in everything from the vest to the hard hat. West was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a young age as a result of complications at birth. West doesn’t see his disability as a disadvantage, though, as he says, it has helped him make friends both within and outside of Super Friends.
“When I was born, I wasn’t getting oxygen to my brain. The nurses helped me and that’s why I am here today. I’m thankful that God gave me a second chance,” West said. “My disability hasn’t stopped me from making friends.”
West aspires to be a construction worker in San Diego, knowing about nearly every tool and its use. During the club’s costume contest, West took home the “Funniest Costume” award for the night, doing his signature “jack hammer” motion as he held the award. He said that college hasn’t been too difficult despite his disability, and he sees his attendance at Saddleback as an opportunity to learn how to become more mature.
“The college experience has really changed me a lot,” West said. “It’s been a little tough to catch up on things, but I recognize that it is a good opportunity to learn to ‘adult’, like if you want to live on your own.”
Disabled Students Programs and Services office assistant Regina Shiroma has been volunteering with the Super Friends for 3 years. Shiroma helps decorate for the club’s major parties, and was one of the few who helped decorate for the Halloween party. She got her start volunteering when she helped decorate the club’s Christmas party years back.
As a child, Shiroma fell off her bed and was knocked unconscious, an accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Shiroma took advantage of Saddleback’s DSPS counselling, graduating magna cum laude in 2013. She said her heart is for the students, finding great joy in their happiness.
“I have a heart for all of our students. It’s just part of my nature to give to others,” Shiroma said. “It’s the students — I do it for them. My favorite part is watching the joy in these kids.”
The next Super Friends event will be a group trip to the last Gauchos football home game Nov. 4 against the Palomar College Comets.