By Dani Anderson
The Easter Seals “Walk With Me” Event is bringing together people from all over the Northern and Central Florida area to help those with disabilities have a chance to become independent and live out their dreams.
“It’s our signature event locally and nationally. It is to raise dollars and awareness.” said Susan Moor, Easter Seals Vice President of Gift Planning about the upcoming walk. The mile and a half walk draws 600 people to the event which starts with a pep rally followed by the walk and ends with a food truck bazaar and live music.
Hundreds of teams comprised of families, business teams, clients and youth clubs divide up into large teams led by one of eight Honorary Ambassadors, an Easter Seals official representative who has received assistance from the organization. Everyone is welcome and walkers range from kids on crutches and in wheelchairs to friends and families that come out to support them. Participants are encouraged to wear their team colors to show pride. Not considered a “traditional athletic walk”, it is more of a “fun family walk” said Moor. An alternate course is available for those who like to get hardcore.
Some kids, like this year’s Child Ambassador of the Year, 7 year old Landon Garcia, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at age 3,the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment required causes them to lose significant motor and cognitive function. The goal of the Easter Seals is to help those affected regain use of these very important abilities. Maximizing independence through education, advocacy, recreation and support services is how Easter Seals is able to help.
The fundraiser is a celebration of the ambassadors and an opportunity for the community to learn about the families and their stories. “No matter your size, age or ability, you can put hope within reach for people with disabilities and have a great time!” says Moor.
One particular client assisted by the organization is Auburn Smith, a 15 year old Spruce Creek High School student. Part of the “Everyone Program”, Smith has dealt with spina bifida, “a congenital defect characterized by imperfect closure of part of the spinal column, exposing some of the nervous system and often resulting in hydrocephalus and paralysis.”. Beating the odds through early intervention, Smith has risen nationally to be ranked 3rd in women’s wheelchair tennis. “This is unique for someone who is mobility impaired.” said Moor. She is the official Easter Seals 2013 Youth Representative Nationally. To see her story, visit http://www.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=ntl_2013_childrep or
The “Walk With Me” event is set for Thursday, April 25, 2013 at the ICI Center, Embry Riddle University. The walk starts at 5:30 p.m. with the Food Truck Bazaar running from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
To create a team, join a team, donate or volunteer, visit www.walkwithme.org/daytona or call Easter Seals 386-255-4568.
Early Intervention is Key
Easter Seals is also offering a Free Developmental Screening Event on Saturday, April 20th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The screenings provide access to qualified Ages & Stages Questionnaires to ensure your child is meeting critical milestones in development during the first five years of life. The questionnaire can be taken at home to determine how your child is progressing. Results will be mailed within 2 weeks and parents are asked to bring the results to the screening event for their appointment.
Visit www.esvf.org to make an appointment.