The cold morning air did not discourage the crowds of people who gathered at the starter line to walk, roll or run for Variety Village.
On Oct. 27, over 450 people came to the Walk Roll Run fundraiser to celebrate and raise money for programs and services for people with disabilities.
Lynda Elmy, 54, the director of communications for Variety Village, says the event is not only about raising funds, but also to have fun within the community.
“We do have some people dress up because it is close to Halloween with masks or some make-up,” she said “And we also get walkers and rollers in wheelchairs decorating their wheelchairs and their walkers.”
Variety Village is the leading athletic facility in Canada that is accessible for people with all types of disabilities. According to their website, 50 full-time and 70 part-time staff serves more than 3,000 families every week.
For volunteer Christine Smith, 63, this was her first time participating in the walk.
“From the first day I walked in to volunteer I thought, ‘What a great culture,’” Smith said. “People are energetic and are friendly. People with disabilities are people that are not exceptional; they are not treated as anything different than you and I or people who are able bodies. It’s a great, great culture.”
The Walk Roll Run started at Variety Village on Danforth Ave. and continued along Danforth Avenue onto Birchmount Road, through local streets, back to the Danforth, and finally ending at Variety Village.
Nicole Flynn participated in the 5K run. She has been going to Variety Village since she was eight years old.
“My two brothers have come here for sports…and I got introduced to gymnastics,” Flynn said. “Variety Village brings me back to my best memories ever.”
Blanca Gonzalez also attended the event to show support for the village and its mission.
“You know what, you get a family. You get friends. You get co-workers. You get benefits and you are in good shape after being here for long time,” Gonzalez said.
“To work with the special needs people. That was my main goal to be here. I think we can learn from people who have a disability. We need an able body and special needs all the time, to work together,” Gonzalez continued.
The fundraiser has already earned $100,000, but donations are still welcome.
“People can actually still go online and make a donation or pledge the participants that did the walk roll run up until Nov. 7 so I’m hoping we’re going to make at least 130,000,” Elmy said.