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April 22, 2014 > Stepping Stones makes every step count

Stepping Stones makes every step count

On Saturday, April 26, Stepping Stones Growth Center Ð an organization founded by parents of children with special needs Ð will hold its 12th annual ÒEvery Step Counts Walk/RunÓ at the San Leandro Marina. ÒEvery Step CountsÓ is a popular, family-friendly fundraising event that encourages individuals with developmental disabilities to be active, as they are a community traditionally underserved by mainstream health and wellness initiatives.

Stepping Stones, established in 1975, serves over 400 adults and kids. Their large menu of services offers after school and long days/vacation programs for kids that focus on vocational and life skills development through hands-on activities, and programs for adults including wellness, art, independent living services, and training for employment opportunities. ÒWe want them to feel confident to participate in all aspects of what other people consider to be a Ônormal life,ÕÓ says Marcia Hodges, interim executive director of Stepping Stones.

Over half of their clients are in the employment programs. Stepping Stones helps them get jobs with corporations like Home Depot, Safeway, Costco and Wal-Mart and provides coaches who help them be successful in their positions.

ÒEvery Step Counts,Ó now in its 12th year, brings staff, board, consumers and the greater community to support the agency. ÒOne of the intangible benefits of the event is to help the greater community become more familiar with persons with developmental disabilities,Ó says Hodges. ÒSo many people have limited knowledge and experience with these consumers that it helps to break down barriers of inclusion into the larger society. The funds raised help to strengthen the overall quality of the programs.Ó

Walk/run participants include USATF athletes and individuals of all ages. Jason Appezzato, former Stepping Stones client, has participated in the event for several years and is now a dedicated runner, hitting the pavement in Alameda every morning. Following high school, Jason joined the organization, working in a number of programs that trained him for his job at Safeway Ð a position he's held for nearly eight years. What began as a way to lose weight turned into a health lesson that taught Jason how much better he feels by being active Ð a feeling similar to what he gained through his experience with Stepping Stones.

The $30 entry fee supports a wide range of innovative programs for Stepping Stones Growth Center and entitles participants to a t-shirt, prize drawings, goodie bag and refreshments; medals will be awarded to the top first-run finisher in each age division, male and female. Each individual who raises $500 or more will receive a prize from Stepping Stones.

Register in advance or sign up on event day. Check-in and day-of registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the San Leandro Marina Park picnic tables near the walking path. Online registration and donation information is available at

Every Step Counts Walk/Run
Saturday, Apr 26
7:30 a.m.: Event check-in and day-of registration
8:30 a.m.: Opening ceremony and walk/run
10:00 a.m.: Closing ceremony and post-event festivities
San Leandro Marina
13800 Monarch Bay Dr, San Leandro
(510) 568-3331
Entry fee: $30

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