Sign-language Santa visits deaf children in Aurora
A sign-language Santa helped bring Christmas spirit to Aurora deaf and hard-of-hearing students on Thursday, Dec. 12.
About 85 students and caregivers were guests at Aurora Noon Lions Club's annual yule party for hearing-impaired students and caregivers at Luigi's Pizza in Aurora.
The party opened with a pizza and pasta dinner. Then, Don Basalone of Lisle, costumed as Santa, used American Sign Language to "talk" Christmas wishes with pupils from East and West Aurora school districts.
Each student received a mini gift bucket containing a stuffed bear toy, candy canes and other treats.
Aurora Noon Lion Dick Schindel of Aurora, party coordinator, was surprised with an appreciation plaque from Angel Zepeda of Aurora. The East Aurora High senior has attended Noon Lions' hearing-impaired yule parties since age 2, said his mother, Maria.
A school audiologist and five interpreters assisted at the party. They were Jen Lage, audiologist; Jeanne McDonald, elementary hearing itinerant, Allen School; Carrie Snyder, high school hearing itinerant, East Aurora High; Debi McConnell, middle school hearing itinerant, Cowherd Middle School; Cary Nagel, interpreter; and Katelyn Mandel, interpreter.
The party was sponsored by the Aurora Noon Lions, in partnership with the Sycamore-based Northwestern Illinois Association, a regional special-education cooperative.