By Jennifer Vazquez
KEARNY —Close to 200 individuals gathered at West Hudson Park this past Saturday, Oct. 6, to take part in the 11th annual Pathways to Independence Walk-A-Thon, a fundraising event to assist Pathways and the work that they do within the community.
Pathways to Independence, an organization solely dedicated to assisting those with developmental and physical disabilities achieve their fullest potential, has been a community staple for decades. In fact, September marked its 35th anniversary.
Pathways to Independence helps its consumers through a variety of different programs and workshops set up to helps them develop and further expand their social, cognitive and daily living skills.
The event had a DJ, raffles and food and drinks for all participants to further enjoy the day’s festivities. The Kearny High School band was also present and provided a lively music presentation to start off the Walk-A-Thon.
Saturday’s event will assist Pathways in continuing the different programs and workshops it provides their consumers.
“This event is our major (annual) fundraiser,” Executive Director Alvin Cox said. “Pathways to Independence wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the great people and towns of Kearny and Harrison.”
The event was sponsored by many corporations and individuals, including the Fraternal Order of Eagles of Kearny, who sponsored the start and finish line –therefore leading the walk-a-thon this year.
“The Fraternal Order of Eagles of Kearny are great!” Cox continued. “They sponsored our start and finish line this year and are leading the walk. They really did a fantastic job.”
The event proved to be quite a success, according to Cox.
“We aimed to raise $25,000 this year and we reached our goal,” he said. “When we first started out we only had about 50 participants that came out that very first year. Today, I would say, close to 200 came, if not more.”
Members of the Kearny council, including Mayor Alberto Santos took part in the walk, noting the importance such an organization holds within the community.
“For almost four decades they do exactly what their name says, they provide pathways to achievement,” Santos said. “They help (their consumers) reach their full potential . They do this everyday in Kearny….developmentally and physically disabled adults need to be part of our society.”
Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, who is also member of the Pathways to Independence Board of Directors, participated in the walk as well.
“(Pathways) is very fortunate that people continue to donate,” Doyle said. “There really is a need for a facility, that does amazing work with those who are physically and mentally disabled, not only from our community but surrounding communities too. They challenge them to reach their fullest. They provide them the opportunity to make a living which gives them a sense of self worth. The work that they do really is fantastic.”
Pathways to Independence is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services –Division of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Labor and Work Force –Division of Rehabilitation Services.
It also has accreditation from the Commission for Blind and Visually Impaired.
According to Pathways, its mission is “to provide program support services, prevocational and vocational opportunities to adults with disabilities. These programs shall provide individuals with disabilities the skills necessary to reach their most independent level of functioning. It is the intent of these programs to provide individuals with the opportunity to earn an income and to maximize their independent living skills.”