Every Step Counts

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk kicked off its 2012 season in Arizona. With close to 900 walkers showing up in support of our mission, they raised almost $50,000 in their first year. While the numbers were impressive, the stories were what made this event extraordinary.

Patrick Utitus, a participant in the Camelback High School program, is living the mission one step at a time. Although he uses a wheelchair and is non-verbal; Patrick takes on daily challenges with a contagious smile. This vibrant young man, refuses to hear the word “no” and longs to have a voice to spread the mission of Best Buddies.

Months prior to the walk, Patrick’s mother emailed Samantha Mason informing her of her son’s most recent aspiration. Sandra stated, “Once again, Patrick wants to push the envelope and show everyone the fearless young man that he is.” Patrick’s desire was to walk in the Friendship Walk. He started training everyday with a Gait Trainer, a device that would suspend his body in an upright position, allowing him to take one step at a time.

Full of excitement and smiles, Patrick arrived at the walk bright and early. As he made the transition to the Gait Trainer, it was the moment many were anticipating. His first steps were empowering not only to him but everyone fortunate enough to share in this incredible moment. Although physically demanding, Patrick walked a full mile that day.

Patrick Utitus with his family at the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Tempe, Arizona

Patrick Utitus with his family at the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Tempe, Arizona

It is in steps like these that lives are forever changed. It is in our steps that we take towards inclusion, equality and opportunity; that we enhance the lives of those with and without disabilities. By encouraging all that you know to join in this life changing movement, you too can take the steps toward creating a better world. Spread the word and sign up for your local friendship walk at www.bestbuddies.org/walk.

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About Melissa Uribe

Deputy Director of State Walks & Runs for Best Buddies International

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