The Arc of St. Lucie County held its Annual Gene Lofton Walkathon on September 25, at Lawnwood Stadium in Fort Pierce.
The Arc is the world’s largest organization providing resources for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And the money raised at the event supports programs and services for 140 disabled children and adults serviced by the Arc of St. Lucie County.
More than 100 participants competed in the superhero-themed walkathon taking laps around the track to earn bragging rights and win prizes.
Walmart, Dyer Chevy Fort Pierce, The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, HBK CPAs & Consultants, Burgess HR Relations, Brain Hester for Sheriff, the Bernard A. Egan Foundation, Jimmy Johns, and Wawa were some of the top sponsors for this fundraiser.
Arc Board member Patty Burgess remembers the late Cecil E. Lofton, aka: “Gene” Lofton, an advocate for the Arc of St. Lucie, who would solicit sponsors to support the organization. “Gene was instrumental in fundraising to support the building of our Kirby Loop facility, and we miss him dearly,” Burgess said.
While walkers raced around the track, supporters treated themselves to fun, games, music, and free food donated by Jimmy Johns of Fort Pierce. First-year CEO, Athary Koning, organized the event and raised $19,000. She credits her incredible staff, community partners, and capable clients with the event’s success. “This isn’t a job to me; this is my love,” Koning told the St. Lucie Post.
St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester ran a 5K for before the walkathon and still brought his wife and stepdaughter out to the event to get some more laps in. For Chief Hester, the extra workout is personal – his stepdaughter Hannah has a developmental disability, and he’s helped raise her since she was nine years old. When he’s not serving the Sheriff’s Office, he serves as a board member for the Arc of St. Lucie County. “Supporting the Arc provides lifelong opportunities so people with disabilities, their parents, siblings, and families can get the resources they need to improve their quality of life,” Chief Hester said.
The day’s big winners – Rocky and Larissa, completed the most laps in their class to earn top prizes and a gold medal. St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners Chair Chris Dzadovsky won a raffle for a 43” TV, a bicycle, and a scooter, courtesy of Walmart. Commissioner Dzadovsky is donating the bicycle and scooter to the Children’s Program at The Arc. Board member Joseph Edge won the basketball hoop and promptly donated it to the Adult Day Program at The Arc. “Everyone is a winner here today, and no one leaves without smiling, said Arc of St. Lucie County President Curtis Boyd.
The Arc of St. Lucie County has an adult day program that teaches life, independence, and vocational skills along with four “forever” homes that house adults with special needs. In some cases, when an adult client arrives at a forever home, the Arc is the only family they have.
They also have a one-of-a-kind afterschool program at Westside Church that teaches special needs students art, music, and community inclusion. “We are elevating our clients’ lives to promote the fact that disability equals capability, said Koning.
For more information about the Arc of St. Lucie County, visit www.arcofstlucie.org