Supporting something special

Posted 10/25/23

Garden City kicked off autumn with a celebration of movement, hosting the Special Olympics and the Cranston Police Department for a walk-a-thon and a 5K run on Sunday, October 22.

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Supporting something special


Garden City kicked off autumn with a celebration of movement, hosting the Special Olympics and the Cranston Police Department for a walk-a-thon and a 5K run on Sunday, October 22.

“Garden City loves to be able to partner with meaningful organizations throughout the state of Rhode Island, and it’s really important to us to be a place for everybody regardless of ability or who they are,” Marketing Manager for Garden City Faith Lockhart explained. “The Special Olympics felt like a really natural fit for us, so when we connected with them we talked about what possible events we could host here.”

Garden City hasn’t been the only organization looking for a cause to partner with. Ed Pacheco, president and chief executive officer of the RI Special Olympics, said that after COVID the organization sought creative and fun ways to bring the community together and provide opportunities for their athletes to engage with the world.

Lockhart explained that this is the second year the event has been held at Garden City. The success of last year’s event and the money raised made the decision to continue the partnership a no-brainer this year.

“Celebrate Movement presented that exact opportunity,” Pacheco explained. “In its first year of inception we headed off to Garden City and they welcomed us with open arms. Like many other organizations and schools we needed to do something outside (because of COVID), and Garden City provided that perfect location for us to practice social distancing while at the same time being together and in the community walking around, raising awareness and bringing in funds for Special Olympics Rhode Island.”

And having raised six figures in their first year of the event, Lockhart was excited about the fundraising opportunity the event garnered for a worthwhile cause.

“There’s a lot of different avenues for the fundraising for this event,” Lockhart explained. “The runners who were participating, there was a run and a walk component and you could decide whether you wanted to do either, and everyone who registered for the event donated towards the special Olympics. So, everyone who joined in the race paid it as part of their registration fee and everyone who registered for the event also can fundraise as well, so the individual athletes participating can get their friends and families to donate and back them up.”

While racers were a big part of the fundraising effort, Lockhart said that the event draws in a variety of corporate sponsors as well that help to provide money for the work the Special Olympics do. It was money desperately needed during a time when both non-profits and for-profits were struggling after the pandemic, Pacheco elaborated.

“Everyone struggled from a financial standpoint, and, certainly, we were no different,” he continued. “This event, even in its first year, was supposed to be one of those opportunities to bring the community together in support of our incredible mission and, more importantly, our incredible athletes.”

Even more so, Pacheco went on, the first year’s event was an opportunity to raise funds in order to continue advancing their work forward. Fast forward and you’d come to find that after the first year of partnership between the Special Olympics and Garden City the momentum would continue growing. In their second year the team found themselves working with members of the Cranston Police department to add a 5K element to the festivities.

“Captain Justin Dutra and the entire community outreach team, and certainly Colonel Winquist, along with all the officers in the Cranston Police Department really represent the best in law enforcement and our partnerships here at Special Olympics Rhode Island” said Pacheco. “One of the biggest supporters of the Special Olympics is law enforcement. There is an organized group of law enforcement members that is referred to as the ‘Law Enforcement Torch Run’ that not only include local municipalities and departments but also the state police, the justice department and in addition to them fire departments all throughout the state.”

While the numbers aren’t in yet as to how much they raised this year, the total was definitely shy from their gains last year. As of Tuesday afternoon the count for funds raised was just over $53,000, but the organization hopes to bring that number up to $55,000 by the time collections end.  The campaign page will be open until the end of the month for those looking to add a last minute donation and help this worthy cause.

To donate just contact the Special Olympics office at 401-349-4900 or scan the QR code beside this story. 

Garden City, Special Olympics


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