Halloween was last week, and it seemed like everyone was getting into the spirit. People were out in costumes, and kids of all ages had fun going door-to-door asking for candy.
Trina Burnett, from Sandy, Utah, is a 17-year-old with autism—and she wanted to get in on the fun. Dressed as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, she decided nothing was going to hold her back from the Halloween tradition and headed out in the neighborhood with her siblings.
But not everyone saw it her way.
As she went door to door, more than a few neighbors turned her down. They only saw someone who was too old to be trick-or-treating.
By the end of the night, Trina came home in tears. Her parents were devastated to see their daughter rejected like that.
“It was sad for me as a parent to see that happen to them,” Trina’s mother, Tara Burnett, told KSTU.
Trina’s sisters were also upset. One of them decided to share the story on Facebook—and it quickly caught people’s attention.
A woman named Heather Chadwick, from the nearby city of Lehi, came across the post, and the story hit close to home for her.
“I have a little cousin that’s special needs as well and I lived with her for a long time, and they have a really special place in my heart,” Chadwick told KSTU.
Chadwick knew she had to help somehow. And while the holiday was a few days passed, she came up with the perfect solution:
To give Trina a “do-over” Halloween.
Chadwick asked her community for help. She asked neighbors to keep their decorations up and agree to give out candy. She also set up a “trunk-or-treat” in the junior high parking lot.
And everyone was blown away by the response.
Not only did so many strangers agree to the belated trick-or-treating, they went above-and-beyond to help out.
“So many people, from all around the country really, have been sending us packages of candy,” Trina’s father Myron Burnett told KSTU.
Chadwick was stunned by how many people showed up at the trunk-or-treat. What started as a way to make Trina’s Halloween a little better turned into a full-fledged community event. People put up decorations, kids showed up in costumes (no doubt thrilled to get a second Halloween this year) and even the Chick-fil-a mascot made an appearance.
“I knew that it was a good community, but I did not expect that at all!” she said.
“This has just been amazing,” Tara Burnett added.
“This is the real story: this story of kindness that we’ve been shown has just been awesome and so heartwarming and we’re so grateful.”
The event was such a success, it might just become an annual tradition: Lehi Jr. High wants to hold another “safe trick-or-treat” event next year for special needs kids, so people like Trina will be able to enjoy Halloween without being misunderstood.
Looking back, Trina holds no hard feelings against the neighbors who turned her down.
“Some people just had some bit of misunderstanding, which is fine,” the teen told KSTU.
But she’s incredibly grateful for the show of support—and all the strangers who came out to make sure she didn’t feel left out on Halloween.
“Well it feels very heartwarming to see that people care so much,” she said.