Walking and supporting

Participants from the Arc Walk wait in line in front of Acapulco Mexican Restaurant to get their burritos for lunch after finishing the event. The Arc Walk is an annual event that donates its profits to the disabled who work at The Arc located on Washburn Road.

Gabriela Sanchez, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The annual Arc Walk for Independence was held Saturday at 8 in the morning on March 23, at Stonewood Mall where hundreds of people joined together to walk around the city of Downey to honor and show support for the mentally and physically disabled and their opportunities for economic independence.

Crowds moved into the mall’s parking lot and were entertained by loud marching bands and perky dancers to lift their spirits and energy. Balloons surrounded the entire location, and a stage was set up in the center of the event where speakers thanked the audiences and spoke inspirational words.

One of the speakers included ABC Eyewitness News’s Phillip Palmer, who was filled with joy as he gleamed into an excited and supportive audience.

“I love being part of the Arc Walk,” Palmer said. “Today we move forward as one loving community.”

Downey Mayor, Mario Guerra followed Palmer, stepped up on stage, and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The mayor was very excited that the community showed such strong support towards people who face daily struggles with Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. He commended the walkers and said he was proud to be the leader of such a great city who was ready to take action for a special cause. As his speech came to an end, Guerra’s closing words revealed strength and support.

“Go Arc, Go Downey!” Guerra said.

After the speeches and a rendition of the national anthem, the walkers geared up for three hours of walking and jogging miles around the city. The group of supporters included small businesses of Downey, families, and various organizations from Downey High School including DHS Amigos, Downey KIWINS’, and Key Club.

The event exuded a joyous atmosphere and, aside from walkers, held volunteers who helped make the walk possible. KIWIN’S adviser Jesus Gayton volunteered himself and his group to help around the walk to perform tasks such as setting up chairs and booths. Gayton held a positive spirit and shared what he loved most about the entire event.

“My favorite part of this event was actually seeing the kids with disabilities and Down Syndrome feeling like they were part of a group and feeling honored,” Gayton said.

The Arc Walk for Independence helped the city of Downey raise awareness and fill the atmosphere with love, care, and honor for the disabled, making them feel they are more than a community, but a family.