Source: RLS Media
According to officials, Community Access Unlimited (CAU) celebrated the Ira Geller Walkathon on over the weekend in Warinanco Park with hundreds of members, staff and supporters in attendance.
CAU is based in Union County and works statewide to help integrate people with disabilities and youth at risk into the community through comprehensive supports. Services include housing, vocational and life skills training, education programs, advocacy, community-based support and more.
The event is named in memory of Ira Geller, a former CAU member who had a passion for promoting self-advocacy with his peers and fundraising for the annual walk. Sponsors for the event included Valley Bank, Innovative Benefit Planning and Paradigm Marketing. Union County also provided event support.
Recognizing a history of helping people in Union County and beyond for more than 43 years, Union County commissioner Sergio Granados credited CAU’s work and impact under executive director Bernadette Griswold. Also among the attendees were several members who have been a part of CAU services for over 30 years. In that time they have found support to grow their independence and find work, a community, and positive relationships.
Mary Kurnos joined CAU as a member in 1987 and has been employed by the agency for nearly 30 years. She takes pride in her job and living independently. “I pay my bills and take care of my home and my appointments on my own,” Kurnos said. “They helped me a lot — my first counselor showed me how to make out artificial checks.”
Sharon Mohry said she has been a CAU member for 30 years and had help with taking care of daily responsibilities to become more self-sufficient. She is also excited to be celebrating her first anniversary with her partner, who she met at CAU.
“They helped me with cooking and cleaning the apartment. Now I can do things on my own,” Mohry added. She sees events like the walkathon as a good opportunity for members to socialize and get outside –“The walkathon helps us get out and do things and helps us be healthy by walking around the park.”
Nicole Suber, a newer employee in the HR department at CAU, was attending her first walkathon. “It’s great to raise funds so the programs can continue to grow and there can be more activities for the members,” she said. “I also think it’s good to hang out with coworkers, the people you see every day.”