WELLINGTON, Kan. – Beautiful blue skies and mild temperatures made for an energizing community walk last year that brought nearly 200 people to Century Park in Wellington in support of folks with disabilities. Children skipped, neighbors jogged and others walked with a cup of coffee in hand, stopping to ring the cow bell announcing each mile accomplished!
This year, we hope to draw a crowd again on May 4, 2013 from 8-11 am at Century Park, Wellington's walking park at 8th & highway 160.
While the free event is to show support to friends, family, neighbors and community members with developmental disabilities, the event began as part of a statewide initiative in 2010 to call attention to the thousands of Kansas who sit on waiting lists for services. A focus we continue to emphasize this year.
"In Sumner County alone, there are 39 people ranging in age from 5 to 66 who continue to wait for support services," says Christa Jones, Futures' director of community supports. "This is a result of the state's ongoing lack of funding for those on the waiting list which includes 4,155 individuals from across the state."
The average wait time for services might startle some. Last year the average wait jumped from 4-5 years to 6-7 years, as is Quin's case. "I believe it was 2005 when we first signed our son up for services," says Sheila Rogers, mother to Quin, a 23-year-old man desiring to get a job and live more independently.
Born with a metabolic disorder that caused some brain damage and given a recent diagnosis of epilepsy, Quin has hoped for help. "Fortunately for us, Quin is easy and a good kid, so I don't feel like it's necessarily a burden," says Sheila. "But I know he is ready to be on his own away from mom and dad, even in a group home setting. He's aware that other people his age aren't typically still living with mom and dad, so that's hard on him at times."
Quin and his parents came out for the community walk last year and hope to attend again this year. Not only were they glad to attend a walk in which Quin could easily participate, stopping or taking a break as needed, but they appreciated the attention it brought to the plight of folks like them waiting a very long time for help.
So mark your calendars for May 4. T-shirts are $10 and on sale now. Just stop by our administrative building at 2410 North A Street in Wellington to pick yours up. Also, join our event on Facebook! WALT will be offering free rides to and from the event by calling 326-9996.