Can there be a walk-a-thon more productive than the fundraiser staged by the Conway Human Development Center, which over the span of years has allowed the center’s Volunteer Council to provide many refinements for clients of the center? 

The 2009 walk is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday and this one, too, is expected to produce another record breaker in terms of participants and finances. Last year, the walk earned $37, 350. 

The generosity of Conway and Faulkner County people has given CHDC and its Volunteer Council outstanding support since the council was organized as a non-profit group in 1981 with a goal of providing the means to help meet the special long-term needs of some 500 plus individuals at the center.

The walk of about 3.1 miles consists of two laps around the CHDC campus. Walkers of all ages are invited to participate. Rest stops are located throughout the walk and are staffed by volunteers who help walkers, providing water and refreshments. 

Prizes galore are in the offing for the hordes expected to participate, many being splendid gifts. Hundreds of students representing Faulkner County schools annually take part in the walk, their liberal attitude of giving very noteworthy.  And there is every reason to believe that the 2009 walk will  continue to attract a plethora of  participants from all walks of life, says Sally Sellers, the center’s volunteer coordinator.

Although the center is operated by the state and receives state appropriations, many projects are not funded by the legislature or by federal assistance, making it a requisite for the volunteer council to work at producing resources for them.

Funds raised by the upcoming walk will be used to augment costs for the building of a respite home for parents of clients. The two-bed room house will be constructed on the campus east of the visitation complex

In evidence today on the CHDC campus are several projects which were orchestrated by the Volunteer Council, including, for example, the visitation complex which is used for meetings of the Parents Association, the volunteer Council, community groups and CHDC training. It was constructed with $270,000 raised by virtue of fundraising events from 1983 to 1989.  

The annual walk-a-thons are lively affairs with much pomp marking the morning of competition. Headquarters for the race — the visitation complex — buzzes with excitement as competitors sign in and devour a sumptuous offering of healthy breakfast foods. Television personalities lend color to the affair, starting the race and proffering prizes to the winners.

The significance of the walk-a-thon is not lost on the participants, aware that their efforts have contributed important elements for CHDC residents with developmental disabilities. 

Walk monies have been used to build coverings over the ambulance bay, construction of the state-of-the-art therapeutic pool and fitness complex, new playground equipment to replace outdated equipment at the park on the CHDC grounds, metal awning covers over sidewalks on the campus, an iron fence — some 1,316 feet across the front of the campus — as a safety measure for clients, plus the construction of a building for classrooms and another for a clothing center,

Money raised also provided for the acquisition by the physical therapy department of a wheelchair seating simulator system to modify and repair wheelchairs used by more than 200 clients.    

A much-needed public address system for the CHDC chapel was acquired at a cost of  $2,083,

And finally,  a portion of  the largess  goes to  purchase Christmas gifts for CHDC clients.