A Special Fester and a special friendship

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Some friendships are so strong, they have their own language. This year’s special fester has some trouble communicating his feelings, but his best friend can understand everything.

Friendships that last a lifetime are hard to find.

“One of the hardest things for children like mine is finding friends,” said Kimberly Caulkins, the mom of special fester Liam Caulkins.

For Ben Parmeter, his friendship with special fester Liam Caulkins, goes deeper than the span of time.

Liam was born with a hearing impairment and is autistic. Daily activities like walking up and down stairs can be difficult for him.

“So he requires a lot of assistance with everyday things people take for granted,” said Caulkins.

Every year, Oktoberfest chooses a person with special needs to be the special fester. This year, it was Liam.

“It gives people in the community just a chance to communicate with him, communicate with us, and spend time as a community learning about each other,” his mom said.

For Liam, being special fester means bringing along his best friend. Parmeter and Liam have been attached at the hip since the second grade.

“I was in the same class as him that year and I just got to know him really well,” said Parmeter.

Their friendship has made it’s way through schools, musicals, and many community events.

“There was a big banner they had put up outside to raise awareness for special needs and we got to help paint that,” said Parmeter.

Now, their friendship is making its way through the special fester carnival.

“We had to get popcorn before things happened, but we’re very excited to be here and meet people,” said Parmeter.

Being the special fester gives Liam the opportunity to meet kids who are just like him.

“Come up, talk to him, high five him, he is more than happy to meet you, and greet and spend time with you. It means the world to him,” Caulkins said.

And continue to make memories with the friend who’s always been by his side.

“Getting to spend time with him and learn and grow with him as a person is really an experience for us all,” said Parmeter.

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