Son’s passing inspires special needs toy drive

Published 12:05 am Saturday, November 30, 2019

LAPLACE — RayQuan Mikel Mason was a happy and loveable soul. He loved wrestling, bowling, skating and visiting Universal Studios, and his DiGeorge Syndrome diagnosis never limited his love for life.

Mason passed away July 15 at the age of 24, and that great loss inspired his mother to give back to special needs children and families this holiday season.

TaQuana Mason is holding a special needs toy drive now through Dec. 21 at Healing Hands Behavioral Health, located at 299 Belle Terre Blvd. Suite E in LaPlace.

“If it weren’t for my baby, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Mason said. “Because of him, I became a nurse. I started my business because of him. I wanted to do things for special needs kids before he passed, but now it has really pushed me to keep his name alive.”

Mason enjoys giving back to special needs children because they do not always have the same opportunities available.

“They don’t get the chance to do what regular kids do,” Mason said. “I just feel the need to give back and make it to where they are living a normal life like other kids.”

Blocks, puzzles and other toys that promote fine motor skills are excellent options for the toy drive, Mason said.

Sensory toy donations will help provide the sensory input children with autism and other special needs crave. Light-up, stretchy and squishy toys can enhance learning and concentration. Educational toys are welcomed.

Gift donations must be dropped off unwrapped. Donations are being accepted at 299 Belle Terre Blvd. Suite E in LaPlace and 801 Barrow St. Ste. 301 in Houma. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Mason is reaching out to local schools and ARC centers to develop a list of special needs families in need of a little joy this Christmas.

“On Dec. 22, I am going to have an event where I will have food for them,” Mason said. “I will have Santa Claus here so they can take pictures and come pick up the toys.”

After the toy drive is complete, Mason hopes to start basketball, baseball and other athletic programs to benefit special needs youth locally.

Mason’s son grew up to graduate from East St. John High School and attend the St. John ARC, but the road was not always easy. Dealing with challenges along the way inspired her to open Healing Hands Behavioral Health.

“We provide counseling services for people dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and anger issues,” Mason said. “We go out to the home and find resources to help them cope with whatever they are going through. It’s something I’m very passionate about, and I love helping people.”

For more information about the special needs toy drive, call Mason at 504-402-7122.