Friendship Walk raises money for ‘Voices’

ARLINGTON — Cindy Somers smiles as she describes her son’s musical talents.

“He just hears the music and plays it,” Somers said about 29-year-old Brandon King, a Marysville resident who has Williams syndrome — a rare genetic condition that can cause cardiovascular disease and learning disabilities. “He played in high school, but when he got out of school there was nothing for him. This has been such a blessing.”

King was one of a few dozen participants to take part in Village Community Services’ third annual Friendship Walk on Saturday, June 26.

The walk serves as Village’s primary fundraiser for Voices of the Village — an Arlington-based band made almost entirely of individuals with disabilities.

Although King didn’t participate in the walk itself — he continued to play the keyboard with band director Jon Dalgarn throughout the walk — he encouraged his fellow band mates and their supporters with his music throughout their one-mile trek through downtown Arlington.

Participants were asked to make a $25 donation to Village Community Services in order to walk in the event. For their monetary contributions, walkers received black Voices of the Village T-shirts, as well as free buttons and magnets.

“The idea is for people in the community to come and walk with us in friendship,” said Michelle Dietz-Date, resource manager for Village Community Services.

The walk began at Legion Park. Participants first made their way south on North Olympic Avenue before turning around and walking through downtown Arlington.

Once walkers reached Division Street, they turned left and marched west until they reached the Centennial Trail near the railroad tracks.

Hikers then strode south on the trail until they reached the finish line back at the park. Organizers moved the finish line up or down depending on each walker’s preference.

Arlington resident Jerry Vanney grinned as he crossed the finish line and was handed a ribbon by volunteer Tamara Pidgeon. All community members received ribbons.

About 25 volunteers helped organize this year’s Friendship Walk, which was the best-attended walk in the event’s short history, said Dietz-Date, who highlighted the efforts of volunteers of event organizers Vicki Adams and Margaret McClure.

Although the event garnered nearly XXX dollars for the band, Dietz-Date said that raising awareness for the band was the priority.

“The goal is to make friends and gain support, not necessarily to raise money,” she said.

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