Walkabout Abilities

September 12, 2013
BY Eric Hal Schwartz

091313_walkaboutOn Sunday, Sept. 22, Goucher College will be the site for a mile-and-a-half walk to raise money and awareness for the services provided to Maryland residents with disabilities by the Abilities Network.

“It’s a bring-your-friends, bring-your-neighbors event,” said Paul Trinkoff, a member of the Abilities Network board.

This will be the seventh annual Walkabout Abilities, an event that has grown into the centerpiece of the Network’s fundraising and outreach efforts.

“It’ not heavy-handed at all,” said Trinkoff, who has participated in the event both as a fundraiser and as an organizer.

The money raised goes to serve those in the community with disabilities and their families. The organization works with people with epilepsy and autism, among other disabilities, and helps them with medical and social adaptation.

“I had epilepsy and got introduced to the Network when I was young through my aunt,” said Leete Garten, who is now on the Abilities Network board.

Garten said that the great experience his family had with the Network led to his father becoming a longtime member of the board, and he is proud to continue that legacy. The Walkabout, he said, plays a key role in informing the community about the Network.

“It’s a testament to our employees,” he said. “It’s become our flagship event.”

The event takes most of the year to plan, but its success has made it worthwhile. The Network engages with schools to improve inclusiveness, and it runs programs to help people with disabilities get jobs. It is also working on a new program for elderly clients who can’t stay in their homes any longer.

“It’s all very hands-on,” Trinkoff said. “It’s very individualized, not a cookie-cutter process.”

Although the Abilities Network is not a Jewish group, the Jewish community in Baltimore plays an important role, as Trinkoff and Garten, both Jewish, can attest.

“It’s a very open organization,” Garten said.

“And there’s a lot of Jewish community involvement,” Trinkoff added.

As for the Walkabout, entertainment and a variety of food vendors help draw large crowds.

“We’ve even had famous local athletes attend,” Garten said.

For more information on the Network and the Walkabout, visit abilitiesnetwork.org.

“It can make a big impact,” Trinkoff said.

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