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​Dad Buys Ice Cream Van To Give Jobs To His Kids With Down Syndrome

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​Dad Buys Ice Cream Van To Give Jobs To His Kids With Down Syndrome

A dad has given his two kids with Down Syndrome the job opportunities he feared they'd never have, after buying an ice cream van for them to work in.

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Joe Wegener and his family have teamed up to sling ice creams to their neighbours in Loveland, Ohio, having already sold thousands of 'neat treats' to locals so far.

He is a father of 10, including daughter Mary Kate, 21, and son Josh, 18, who both have Down Syndrome.

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Joe wanted to not only provide them with jobs, but also help them learn about important aspects like finance, communication, social skills and customer service.

The business is called 'Special Neat Treats', a name dreamt up by his wife Freida as a 'nod to the special needs community'.

Speaking to WLWT, Joe said: "It started out as an idea to sell ice cream. Now it's so much bigger than that."

Credit: NBC
Credit: NBC
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He said when people asked Mary Kate what she wanted to do, she always replied: "I want to work with Papa."

Joe explained: "But then when we started talking about this ice cream business, it was just natural to bring her in and also bring Josh in."

He added: "Almost every time I go out, I find a family with special needs or with something, some connections. It's just been an unbelievable journey."

Joe and his kids have now sold nearly 5,000 desserts, helping Mary Kate and Josh learn about business along the way.

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Credit: NBC
Credit: NBC

Josh said his father has taught him customer service skills, like how to make customers 'smile' and to wave at them.

Sharing his love for the product he flogs, Josh said: "We love ice cream... and we all scream for ice cream!"

Joe hopes to expand the family business in the future, adding: "No matter what your abilities are, there's something that you can do.

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"And you can spread joy, and interact with other people."

Credit: NBC
Credit: NBC

In another interview with WXIX, Joe explained that his other job - alongside raising 10 kids with Freida - is working for a fundraising company.

Usually his summers are pretty free, but now he's found a new way to keep everyone busy.

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He said: "On a daily basis we connect with people that care so much about special needs, or they have their own story and to be able to sit in this truck, look out the window and see kids coming screaming and parents bringing their kids."

He added that he he hopes the venture will inspire others, saying: "No matter what your family situation is or the dynamics of what's going on, one thing is there's hope and there's joy.

"And there's some normality to life and we're going to do that through this means of sharing an ice cream with you. As much as possible, we want to get out there and share the joy and share hope."

Featured Image Credit: NBC

Topics: Business, News, US News, ice cream, Jobs

Jess Hardiman
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