I walk because I believe every individual should be treated with dignity and respect.I walk because people with disabilities have traveled a road that I cannot relate to, but yet I appreciate what they have overcome. I walk because for one morning a year, I can share time with my friends, family and people with disabilities and for this brief moment - they are the stars of the day. I may be one in several thousand, but I want to show others that I care and more importantly to remind myself that we all have special gifts and talents regardless of our circumstances. I walk for the thousands who spent most of their lives in large institutions, but who can now thrive in a warm and accepting community. I walk to support that person who receives training, love and care on a daily basis at The Arc. I walk for the person who will get their first real job at the age of 40 through The Arc's Employment Center. I walk for the family in crisis who will receive help from The Arc's Center for Human Rights. I walk for the senior, who can retire and enjoy the later stages of life in The Arc's Senior Services. I walk for people with severe disabilities who celebrate even the smallest successes. I walk for people with disabilities who have been the focus of ridicule, staring eyes, jokes and who never received that warm smile and hello that I receive. I walk not out of pity, but because I believe that everyone is worthy of dignity and respect. I will focus this morning on the abilities of all mankind and not on their disabilities. I believe that God created man in his own image and we may all be a little different, but we are all beautiful in our own way - disability or not. The Arc Walk for Independence is a show of support for individuals who are edging closer toward independence - I pledge to support, encourage and cheer them on - every step of the way. I am excited that my community comes together and puts aside differences for one special morning of Hope. The Arc Walk for Independence - a tradition - of walking arm in arm together. The Arc's motto is "When You Give Help... You Give Hope." I will make that motto a reality. A couple of hours on a Saturday morning - March 23rd at Stonewood Center - let us come together. Kevin MacDonald is chief executive officer of The Arc - Los Angeles & Orange Counties.
********** Published: March 21, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 49