SIKESTON - We walk all the time yet seldom do the steps provide an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child with special needs.
The Kenny Rogers Children's Center Charity Walk goes beyond making it possible for the Center to provide services to the children who enter the building.
It makes dreams come true.
"Because of the Kenny Rogers Children's Center I can open my left hand and I couldn't used to," said 15-year-old Jeff Beeson Jr. of Benton who has cerebral palsy on his left side and has been going to the Center for 14 years. He is this year's youth representative for the walk.
"This Charity Walk is really important because the money helps the Center help kids like me move forward instead of backward." But Beeson not only receives, he gives. Each year without fail he raises money for the Center. Last year he raised more than $3,500.
People of all ages are encouraged to start making plans to be part of the 29th annual event which is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 12. Registration will begin at 9 a.m.
It's a day participants can spend a little time accomplishing a lot, said KRCC Executive Director Chuck Martin. "In October the sky is a baby blue, the temperatures are cool and it is a great time to join some of your friends, family and co-workers in supporting a great cause."
The Charity Walk is the Center's second largest fundraiser, next to the annual telethon. This year's goal is to raise $20,000 and KRCC is asking Sikeston and the surrounding area to help make or even surpass that figure.
"This year more than ever we need the community's support," Martin said. "Whether walkers raise $1, $10, $100 or $1,000, we want as many people as possible to join us this year. I've always said that if someone brings $10 to the table, it's $10 that we didn't have. All gifts are appreciated."
And now is the time to start collecting, stressed Martin, who added that participants have until the morning of the event to turn in what they've raised. There will be first, second and third-place prizes for those who raise the most money. In addition, everyone raising $50 or more will be presented with a Charity Walk T-shirt.
Also planned is a raffle, but not just any kind. The winner will go home with a 32-inch RCA television, a Sanyo DVD/VCR combo and a $100 gift certificate for video rentals at a store in the winner's community, complete with free microwave popcorn and soda.
"The community has cared about meeting the needs of area children with special needs since this Center first opened its doors in 1974," noted Martin. "The community understands that it is only with their continued support that we are able to continue to provide services at no direct cost to the families we serve."
Donations have been a major source of the Center's income over the years. "If we are to continue to be successful, the ongoing financial support of individuals, organizations and companies is critically important. Participation in and support of our 2002 Charity Walk is most appreciated and will truly make a difference as we strive to meet our mission and to positively impact the lives of these very special children that we serve," Martin emphasized.
The end of the walk by no means signifies the day has come to a close. Participants are then served hamburgers, chips, ice cream and soda for lunch.
To obtain a registration form contact KRCC at 472-0397.
"Show up the morning of October 12, check in and turn your money in," Martin said simply. "Enjoy the walk with the other participants, have a great lunch and maybe even win a prize. Head home with all of Saturday afternoon yet to enjoy.
"But leave our walk knowing that your willingness to donate a few hours and bucks will help our Center make a tremendous difference in the lives of area children with special needs for the remainder of the year."