Donations are earmarked for the I Can Camp Enrichment Center.
Any apprehension Buddy Walk Grand Marshall Blythe Stanley might have had, dried up as quickly as the rain that briefly drizzled on the crowd at the 10th annual Fun Coast Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk at the Flagler County Airport on Saturday, Oct. 10.
With a big smile and the help of WESH 2 news anchor Jim Payne, Blythe read her story, in the third person, for all to hear.
“The reason it was written that way is because Blythe became apprehensive last night and didn’t think she would be able to read it,” Paula Wilburn, founder of the association said. “When she got here and saw everyone she decided it would be cool.”
The event began with 183 pre-registered participants. Wilburn had hoped to reach 300, but counting additional registrations at the event, about 259 participated.
The first year we had 100 people and raised $5, 000,”she said. “As of 8:30 last night (Friday, Oct. 9), we had raised $12,407.60, quite short of our goal of $75,000. It’s not quite what we wanted, but we do what we can. I am hoping the total donation will double from what came in today.”
On Saturday afternoon the organization’s website reported donations of nearly $22,000. The lofty fundraising goal was for something Flagler County does not have – an enrichment center.
“Right now it is out of my house,” Wilburn said.
Camp I Can Enrichment Center would be a place for people to volunteer, parents to check out books, and social events for all age groups, as well as being the literacy center.
“Right now we have people who want to volunteer but have no place to go,” Wilburn said.
A long-term goal is to also have a care center for the children of working families.
“The kids get out of school and there is nowhere for them to go,” Wilburn said. “The teens can go to the Boys and Girls Club at Rymfire, but when school started this year the school district said they weren’t going to transport them, so the parents are still stuck.”
Donors and participants included school groups, businesses and one purple clad group from the Gulf Coast.
Chloe’s Buddies traveled from Homosassa, FL to participate in the walk.
“We go to different Buddy Walks all over the state and even outside,” Chloe’s dad John Zuidema said. “We enjoy these and we’ve gone to walks in Jacksonville and New York City.”