Joel Wegener is a Loveland resident and the father of 10 kids. Two of those kiddos, Mary and Josh, have Down syndrome. No surprise, Joel wanted to make sure both Mary and Josh would have thoughtful, ongoing opportunities to interact socially and gain experience from working. Of course, he’s been able to achieve that goal—with an ice cream truck.
The idea struck Joel a while back, and he decided to run with it. He purchased a truck from a family in Columbus, Indiana, and got to work renovating it whenever he had the time.
“The time and extra expenses during that period were tough,” Joel explains. “But it’s rewarding to go out and have fun while teaching skills to my kids … and also make some money for our family.”
The name of the business—and the truck—is Special Neat Treats. While they’re licensed to operate in any location around the state of Ohio, their family’s recent focus has been 100% local.
“We live in the Loveland area, so we have concentrated on this lovely slice of Ohio so far,” Joel shares. “We’ve found the people of Loveland, Morrow and Maineville to be so friendly and accepting ... we’re planning to expand to some other communities around Cincinnati this summer.”
Joel’s background is in education, so he has his own share of solid experience connecting with both children and their parents. “There’s a real magic about showing up in a neighborhood with our music box calling out to kids of all ages … interacting with kids and their parents is always so fun and rewarding.”
For Joel, even more rewarding since launching Special Neat Treats has been the community interest itself. “The tremendous response from everyone we meet has exceeded my expectations. It’s so exciting to sense that this dream that God put in my heart has come true and is unfolding before my eyes.”
Outside of operating the truck in local neighborhoods, Joel and his family offer ice cream catering to birthday parties and other special events. They like to keep these events local as well, but they’re more than happy to travel to other areas in Cincinnati and Dayton as their busy schedule permits.
Joel hopes that Special Neat Treats will inspire people with special needs (and their loved ones) to find fun, innovative ways to get involved and meet their neighbors. Want to know when the truck will be in an area near you? Simply follow them on Facebook.
Facebook.com/Special-Neat-Treats-108208874714471 | 513.319.1990
must-try sweet treats
- The Big Dipper Vanilla Cone
- The Chip Around Ice Cream Sandwich
- The Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bar