Clark, NJ – Sept. 16, 2019 – More than 600 Community Access Unlimited members, employees and friends turned out at Oak Ridge Park in Clark on Saturday to celebrate at the annual Ira Geller Walk-a-Thon. Whether walking, rolling, dancing, or just hanging out with friends, attendees came together for a great time during CAU’s 40th anniversary year.
Sponsors of the Walk included Investors Bank, Lakeland Bank, and Inglesino, Webster, Wyciskala & Taylor. Visitors enjoyed games of darts, a giant inflatable ring toss and a sticky sweet snow cone station, all hosted by CAU staff.
“It’s an exciting day every year for everyone to come out in full color and enjoy the park,” said Executive Director Bernadette Griswold.
CAU is a Union County-based, statewide nonprofit that strives to integrate people with disabilities and at-risk youth into the general community through comprehensive supports.
The Walk became a banner fundraiser more than 20 years ago, replacing a friendly Wallyball tournament, according to CAU founder and Associate Executive Director Sidney Blanchard. The event now memorializes Ira Geller, a former member who was an enthusiastic fundraiser for CAU.
“He always kept the members informed,” Blanchard said. “And he would speak at conferences about building community and getting to know your neighbor.”
Agency departments and members sported a rainbow of T-shirt colors for their teams and decorated them with glittering paint. Special Olympics soccer league players came up the hill to grab some food and join in the fun.
“I come every year, and I saw some of the members of Hairspray Jr. here,” said Buddy Barile, a longtime member who was delighted about his recent CAU trip to Wildwood.
“They’re all here today,” Support Counselor Emil Aldridge said of five members he brought from Summit. “They're getting out of the house and socializing in their community.”
Union County Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski and Christopher Hudak helped kick off the walk at the starting line.
“For forty years, Community Access has been an outstanding partner to the County in providing support for our residents with special needs,” said Freeholder Chair Kowalski. “We take great pride in funding these efforts, and also supporting important events like the Ira Geller Walkathon that raise money for adults with developmental disabilities.”
To learn more about CAU, visit www.caunj.org or follow the agency on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Community Access Unlimited
Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 40th year in 2019, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little power in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights. CAU currently serves more than 5,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.