More than 300 people took laps around the top level of Westroads Mall on Sunday during the Walk and Roll for Disabilities.
The ninth annual fundraiser, sponsored by the Meyer Foundation for Disabilities, raised more than $25,000 for the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute. The institute offers recreation opportunities and programs for people with disabilities, including adults.
Adults with disabilities don't have as many recreation opportunities as their peers, said Deb Herink, a volunteer on the Walk and Roll committee.
“Our friends with developmental disabilities like to go to movies and activities, but that might take extra effort,” said Mary McHale, president of the Meyer Foundation for Disabilities. “We try to give them that opportunity, so they're more like their peers than different.”
Sunday's event also included snacks, music, clowns and entertainment by a cheerleading squad before participants walked or rolled in wheelchairs around the mall.
“It's a fun event for the whole family,” Herink said.
Herink's 34-year-old son, Ben, has cerebral palsy and has worked with the Munroe-Meyer Institute since he was 3.
Ben is a people person, said Jay Herink, Ben's father.
“What Ben enjoys most is seeing all his friends,” Jay Herink said. “It's a chance for these people to have a social life.”
Chris Araniz attended the event to support the daughter of her friend Beth Wakehouse. KellyLynn Wakehouse, 21, has been involved with the Munroe-Meyer Institute for 17 years.
“She grew up with all of them,” Beth Wakehouse said. “They stay close.”
Now KellyLynn will start attending the adult programs, which offer activities such as cooking, swimming and art.
“It's a very social thing,” Beth Wakehouse said.
Araniz also helped Michelle Barnes, 51, make a lap around the mall.
Barnes, like KellyLynn, will join the Munroe-Meyer Institute's adult programs and is looking forward to sports such as swimming and bowling.
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