Smart Walk draws families, friends and supporters

Kelly Raymond of Ridgefield; Julie McMahon of Westport, Walk co-chair; and Ashley Raymond of Ridgefield.

Kelly Raymond of Ridgefield; Julie McMahon of Westport, Walk co-chair; and Ashley Raymond of Ridgefield.

Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho photo.

More than 200 parents, children, professionals and supporters joined together for the second annual Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities on Sunday, Sept. 22, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. The event raised more than $30,000 for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, a Norwalk-based nonprofit that provides educational programs, youth mentoring, parent networking and resources for families.

The afternoon celebrated the strengths and talents of young people with learning disabilities and ADHD, rejected the stigma attached to these issues and empowered parents, a press release said. Leading the opening ceremonies was Robert Tudisco, a nationally known disability rights attorney with Barger & Gaines, author, and motivational speaker, and also an adult diagnosed with ADHD. Tudisco spoke about the promising future for youngsters with learning disabilities and the importance of their parents, their champions, in serving as their advocates. Student speaker Tori Ingulli of Redding, a junior at the Wooster School in Danbury, spoke about how she embraced her learning disabilities, which helped her work harder, learn more and discover new passions. “There’s nothing wrong with being different,” she said. “Embrace your difference ... own your disability!”

Special guests Connecticut State Sen. Will Haskell and Westport Selectwoman Melissa Kane lent their support. The Weston High School Chorale performed, singing “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, and children enjoyed games, crafts, face painting, a photo booth, refreshments, an ice-cream truck and a touch-a-truck, a concrete mixer, courtesy of Devine Bros. of Norwalk. Families, individuals and teams walked the two-mile scenic route at their own pace on the sunny first day of fall. There were 30 volunteers, including the Staples High School S.L.O.B.S. “The Walk was wonderful,” said Sari Canell of Scarsdale. “It gave everyone touched by LD or ADHD such a sense of home and community.”

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities extended gratitude for the support of its Walk gold sponsors: Fusion Academy of Fairfield, Fusion Academy of Greenwich and The Canell Group at J. P. Morgan Securities; silver sponsor: Winston Preparatory School; bronze sponsors: The Southport School, The Southfield Center for Development & Sensory Kids, Westport Family Dental, The Windward School, The Bridge Program at Wooster School and the O’Hare family; and media sponsors: News 12 CT, WEBE 108, WSHU Public Radio and Macaroni Kid.

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