A Tennessee family’s Christmas made magical after visit to Cherokee Caverns

Positively Tennessee

A family from Cleveland, Tenn. had such a magical Christmas this past year, and they can’t stop talking about it. 

For the holidays the Bearfields made the hour-and-a-half road trip to Cherokee Caverns on Oak Ridge Highway in Knox County, hoping it would spark their son CJ’s interest.

CJ is autistic; with his autism, CJ usually doesn’t show his emotions and doesn’t speak. 

Their visit to Cherokee Caverns would prove to be the best Christmas gift CJ’s parents could ever receive. 

They were able to capture his reaction to meeting Mickey Mouse and it was nothing short of priceless.

“It was like CJ’s best friend,” dad William Bearfield says. “It was a great experience.”

Mom Stacy Bearfield says, “we have never seen that side of him.”

The Bearfields adopted CJ in 2014, knowing the obstacles he will face, wanting to provide him a loving home. 

Mr. Bearfield says, “CJ came from a – we’ll just say, a less than ideal situation.”

After that first visit to Cherokee Caverns went so well, managers there invited CJ and his family back. 

“We’re just beyond honored and blown away that this has affected their family,” co-manager Dana Whidby told us. 

They hoped to recapture the magic of CJ’s first experience with Mickey.

Once the famous mouse appeared in the darkness of the caverns, it only took seconds to bring out pure joy for a child who so often cannot show it.

Mrs. Bearfield says, “it’s been a great experience and I know we’ll be back every year.”

Thank you to Mickey Mouse and Cherokee Caverns for making CJ’s visit a Positively Tennessee Experience. 

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