When Anna Jones and her daughter, Mi'Racle, arrived at Howdy Homemade in Dallas Tuesday at noon, neither expected to see what was inside. "Shocked, amazed, appreciative," said Jones. "Very overwhelmed!"
Jones had called the ice cream shop last week to see if she could bring her daughter for a birthday ice cream cone. Owner, Tom Landis, asked if it was for for a party. When Jones said she didn't have enough friends or family to attend a party, Landis put the word out.
"It ain't about the money," Landis said. "It's just about trying to make people feel good." Landis posted an invitation on Facebook, and the surprise birthday party plans were set in motion.
Jones originally called Howdy Homemade for a reason. "I wanted her to go somewhere where she could meet other people that was just like her," Jones said. She thought the ice cream shop was the perfect treat. "We have a relentless pursuit to create jobs for those with special needs," explained Landis, who employs only special needs adults at his business.
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On Tuesday, the shop was filled with guests the Joneses didn't know and a table piled high with gifts from strangers... now friends.
"That's what you need to know, that you're not alone," explained Kristin Milota, who brought her 3-year-old daughter Jacklyn, who also has Down Syndrome, to the party. "It takes a village to raise all kids, but especially these kids."
"I feel very lucky because I added all these people to me and my daughter's life as family," said Jones. "I can actually say I have family, but we have a bigger family now."