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updated: 7/28/2014 11:54 AM

Children with special needs go through knight training at Medieval Times

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  • Knight Camden Brown shows a weapon to Ruby Benefield, 8, of Westmont, as the group Variety Children's Charity teamed with Medieval Times in Schaumburg on Sunday to offer knight training to children with special needs.

       Knight Camden Brown shows a weapon to Ruby Benefield, 8, of Westmont, as the group Variety Children's Charity teamed with Medieval Times in Schaumburg on Sunday to offer knight training to children with special needs.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Florian Pop of Deer Park shows his son, Daniel, 15, an ax Sunday as the group Variety Children's Charity teamed with Medieval Times in Schaumburg to offer knight training to children with special needs.

       Florian Pop of Deer Park shows his son, Daniel, 15, an ax Sunday as the group Variety Children's Charity teamed with Medieval Times in Schaumburg to offer knight training to children with special needs.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Temoc Aguilar of Chicago holds his son, Felipe, 5, while they practice with a sword as the group Variety Children's Charity teamed with Medieval Times in Schaumburg on Sunday to offer knight training to children with special needs.

       Temoc Aguilar of Chicago holds his son, Felipe, 5, while they practice with a sword as the group Variety Children's Charity teamed with Medieval Times in Schaumburg on Sunday to offer knight training to children with special needs.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

Ruby Benefield of Westmont swung her sword through the air and then brandished a battle ax.

Rather than be afraid, though, Ruby's family members just smiled.

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"Come on, do a grrrr face!" one of Ruby's sisters said while taking pictures of the 8-year-old.

Ruby was part of a group of children with special needs who participated in a "Knights in Training" preshow event Sunday afternoon at Medieval Times in Schaumburg.

Medieval Times holds Knights in Training sessions each weekend throughout the summer, but Sunday's was the first designed specifically for children with special needs.

Typically, the sessions take place on the sand-covered floor in the main arena, a spot that can be difficult to access for some children. Sunday's session was held on a flat floor on the building's main level.

Medieval Times partnered with Variety of Illinois Children's Charity to make the event happen.

"We'd wanted to do something with Medieval Times for a long time, so this is really exciting for us," said Angelique Barthel, executive director of Variety of Illinois. Among other things, the group provides mobility equipment to special-needs children.

During the session, the children learned about what it means to be a knight, then watched as a pair of Medieval Times' own "knights" demonstrated how to use swords in combat.

After the demonstration, the children got a chance to hold other weapons from the time, including an ax and a mace. Finally, the children and their families enjoyed the regular Medieval Times jousting show.

The children's families said they were grateful for the chance to enjoy a part of Medieval Times they probably wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

"It's great that they did this ... Ruby was so excited," said Lara Benefield, Ruby's mother.

Florian Pop of Deer Park attended the event with his wife, Estera, and their 15-year-old son, who uses a wheelchair.

"We're very happy to be here," Florian Pop said. "We don't want our son to just be cooped up in the chair all the time. We want him to get as many experiences as he can. He's most excited about the horses."

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