Hundreds of people walked or rode in wheelchairs along city blocks downtown Wednesday morning to bring awareness to people with disabilities during the 23rd Annual Hal Plonk Disability Awareness Walk.
Parents, caregivers, friends and supporters walked from the parking lot of St. Paul United Methodist Church, with young people and adults who face challenges, and made their way along Jones, Walnut, Center and Chestnut streets before returning to the church.
Dee Foss, chair of the Mayor’s Committee For Persons With Disabilities, said each year there is a good turnout for the walk, usually about 400 people. The committee was founded by former Mayor Hal Plonk, who had a disabled child, and the committee decided to name the awareness walk after Plonk, she said.
Felecia Williams, city liaison, said St. Paul’s has always been the host site for walk. This year, there were door prizes, activities and games. A new addition this year was performances by the band Rockreation, consisting of people living with disabilities, she said.
Chuck Nail walked with his son, Charlie, a special needs adult who has been with Skills Creation, a human services agency, for eight years.
“I think this is fantastic,” Nail said. “They (the disabled) enjoy it. My son enjoys it. He was pestering us about two months prior.”
Nail is a former member of the Mayor’s Committee For Persons With Disabilities.
Mayor Chuck Allen said the city really enjoys putting on the walk every year and encouraged everyone to continue doing it.
Allen introduced Councilman Mark Stevens, who also walked, and Goldsboro’s new city manager, Timothy Salmon.
“This is Tim’s first day on the job, and it’s Tim’s first event,” Allen said. “So, this is a great event to start it off on.”
Salmon said he was excited to be in Goldsboro and serve the community. His wife, who is good at volunteering, also was excited to be here and looked forward to meeting everyone, he said.
“Have a great day and walk,” Salmon said.
Allen and Salmon helped hold the banner proclaiming “Goldsboro Mayor’s Committee For Persons With Disabilities” and led the walkers out of the church parking lot, creating a flood of support for people with special needs.