SAN ANTONIO – Hundreds of people laced up their walking shoes to pound the pavement for a good cause Sunday.
The Brighton Center held the first Inclusion Walk, or iWALK for short, at Morgan's Wonderland. The purpose of the event was to showcase the unique abilities of the children the nonprofit organization serves.
"We wanted to create an event for them where they could be with their peers, their families, and participate in a walk and do something fun out in the community," said Brighton Center CEO Kim Jefferies.
Nearly 700 people participated in the 1-mile walk. While charitable events are held every year to benefit similar organizations, Jefferies said the center wanted to do something different and make it a point for the children, many of them suffering from physical or developmental disabilities, to participate.
"That's what Brighton is all about, giving kids an opportunity to share their gifts with their community," Jefferies said. "To see the kids walking here with their families, or being pushed or however they're going to get around this track, it's really heartwarming because they all have something to offer."
One of the biggest fundraisers was the Lozano family, which participated in the walk for 3-year-old Leila, who has Down syndrome, and received physical and speech therapy from the Brighton Center.
"They came to our house each week, and saw her and worked with her," said Leila's mother, Nancy Lozano.
The family pulled out all the stops, constructing a wagon made especially for Leila.
"It makes it easier for us to come out and show off this beautiful girl," said Leila's father, Michael Lozano.
Although registration was free, the event raised about $20,000 for the Brighton Center.