Individuals and teams are invited to register for Walk With Me, a signature fundraiser for Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida. The event will be Friday, April 26. Gates open at 5 p.m., the walk begins at 6 p.m. and the Daytona Tortugas game and Walk With Me picnic begin at 7:05 p.m. The event will begin and end at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Daytona Beach and includes a 1.5-mile scenic stroll around the Sweetheart Trail in Riverside and City Island Parks in Daytona Beach.
Free registration is available at www.walkwithme.org/daytona. Online tools allow team captains to invite others to donate toward the team’s fundraising goals. Funds raised through Walk With Me support vital programs for people with disabilities in Volusia and Flagler Counties.
Walk With Me is seeking local businesses as event sponsors too. Interested parties may contact Susan Moor at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on sponsorship packages, which range from $250 to $5,000.
Each year, Walk With Me is led by inspiring local young ambassadors who lead teams through the event and share their stories of hope and courage while living with disabilities. The 2019 Walk With Me ambassadors include Barrington Little (age 3), Blake Ferguson (2), Isabella Potsick (13), Scarlett Valdez (5), Myracle Andrews (5), Bob McGrath (4), Carson Chesley (9), Carl Bowdre (2), Ethan MacGregor (4), and Piper MacGregor (2).
In honor of national Easterseals’ 100-year anniversary, Easterseals hopes to secure 100 teams in this year’s event.
For more information about Walk With Me, visit www.walkwithme.org/daytona. For more information about how Easterseals is taking on disability in our communities, visit www.eastersealsnecfl.org.
A funny and smart sweetheart: That’s how one of Barrington Little’s biggest fans, family member B.K. McLaurin, describes her three-year-old Easterseals preschool student. Barrington’s been named a 2019 Walk With Me honorary Ambassador and his family’s excited to share his story.
Barrington attends Easterseals Charter School in Daytona Beach. After some unsuccessful stints in area daycares, he found a safe and patient place to learn at Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida.
“He wasn’t keeping pace with other kids at the daycare, and he’s had some challenges,” said B.K., “so we were recommended to come to Easterseals and get some help with his behaviors.”
Since arriving last September, B.K. and his mother Santana Little agree Barrington has made great strides in his development.
“When he came to Easterseals, he wasn’t talking except to say eat! eat! eat!,” said B.K. “He’s progressed a lot here. He uses more words, he’s become more independent and he’s more social, too.”
Barrington’s family says he’s able to do more for himself since he started at the Charter School. He’s able to get his own shoes and helps get himself dressed. The next goal is potty training.
Barrington loves music and to play with bouncy balls and big trucks with even bigger wheels – activities he enjoys at school and home that continue to help him develop and learn.
“Being here at Easterseals is great for Barrington,” said B.K. “He can do more things on his own and he’s learning. His behavior’s improved and he’s using more words. There’s been big progress in him and we’re very happy.”
Santana and B.K. agree Easterseals has been a blessing to their family.
“Easterseals is perfect for our child. (Parenting) takes a lot of patience and time but don’t give up. There’s help out there, you just need to get connected to the right person and the right resources. Don’t give up and have faith. Once you get connected to the right resources and network, it’s smoother sailing.
Added B.K.: “Easterseals is the greatest gift ever. It’s a blessing.”
Barrington’s family is honored to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program and invite you to walk with pride for the kids! Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join Barrington’s team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Blake Ferguson is an energetic two-year-old who’s ready to take on the world – a world that gets bigger and more exciting every day thanks to Early Steps and Easterseals.
Blake was born two months prematurely and with significant hearing impairment – an impairment recognized immediately by the medical team who cared for him in the neonatal intensive care unit. That’s the moment that started Donald and Tara Ferguson’s journey to Early Steps: Florida's early intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers (up to 3 years) with developmental delays. Locally, the program is operated by Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida.
Interventions began right away for Blake as an Early Steps therapist began working with him at the Ferguson’s home when he was hardly four months old. Monthly visits, which continue today, focus on playing with sounds he enjoys with the help of his hearing aids.
“The state got us connected with Early Steps right away; there was no long wait time,” said Tara. “Our contact connected us immediately with an Early Steps play therapist who visits our home once a month for an hour-long session.”
Today, Blake’s relationship with sound and his vocabulary and communication skills continue to improve through Early Steps therapy. “He’s addicted to anything that plays music,” said Tara. “If it has anything to do with music, he’s loving it.”
The Fergusons rave about the support they’ve received from Easterseals staff and the group of professionals they work with through the DeLand office.
“Deanna is fabulous with letting us know about playgroups,” said Tara. “She knows I’m a teacher, so she always emails me and lets me know when there’s a playgroup on my days off. Having a network of support has been fabulous.”
“I tell other parents to contact Easterseals and they’ll find a way to help you,” she said, “and that’s what’s been great with Easterseals in DeLand. Any question I have, Crystal finds an answer the next day.
“For me, Easterseals has been an open door. I’ve never done any of this before and every step of the way Easterseals has helped us through everything,” said Tara.
Donald and Tara encourage parents to seek out resources from Eeasterseals from the first moment of concern.
“If you’re not sure what to do, go find out,” said Donald. “Easterseals will tell you right away and lead you in the right direction. There are so many different avenues they can help you with.”
“I definitely want to continue to be involved in things even when Blake’s out of the program,” said Tara. “They’ve just been a great help for us that I cannot imagine not trying to help them as well.”
The Ferguson family is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program. Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join their team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida’s “Walk With Me Daytona,” a signature fundraiser, was postponed to May 31 due to forecasted inclement weather on its original date. The plan was that teams would meet at the ballpark at 5 p.m. to begin a 1.5-mile scenic stroll along the Sweetheart Trail. Afterward, they’d enjoy a family and friend’s picnic and night out at the ballpark with the Daytona Tortugas.
But, nature had other plans; May 31 was wet, too! Although similar thunder rolled through the skies above Jackie Robinson Ballpark on May 31 as well, it didn’t stop families from coming out to party in the rain.
“So many families showing up for Walk With Me despite the wet weather reminds us how much Easterseals is beloved, needed and important to our community,” said VP-Planned Giving Susan Moor. “To see everyone dancing in the rain, enjoying one another’s company and sharing a meal was heartwarming.”
There’s no stopping Easterseals’ folks!
“A great cause and a great night in spite of the rain!” Susan Janaro wrote on Easterseals’ Facebook page.
“Our team had such a great time this year at Walk With Me,” added the team at Tom Cook Jewelers.
Each year, Walk With Me is led by inspiring local young ambassadors who lead teams through the event and share their stories of hope and courage while living with disabilities. This year’s Walk With Me ambassadors include Walter Stewart, age 4; Leon Johnson-Hansen, age 7; Avery Bishop, age 8; Stephen Watkins (adult); Harry Cortright, age 4; Quinn Duncan, age 2; Annahart Yuschok, age 17; Barry Mack, age 3; and Ericka Winn, age 30.
Funds raised through Walk With Me support vital programs for people with disabilities, including pediatric therapy, pediatric audiology, charter school and child development centers, deaf advocacy, equipment loan closet, Joey’s Gift Respite Care and Local Early Steps.
Stay tuned for next year’s event! And in the meantime, cross your fingers for clear skies; the good times and smiles are guaranteed!