A Beautiful Day to Walk and Celebrate

October 12, 2022

Breese, IL – Community Link reached yet another milestone this year with their 16th Annual Buddy Walk. It was a beautiful, sunny, fun filled day. The park was filled with 48 teams and over 1200 registered walkers at the Breese Northside Park last Saturday to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month and the uniqueness of all of our loved ones with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. With the support of friends, families, and sponsors, Community Link has raised over $115,000 to date.

The day started with an opening ceremony at 10:40am with Michelle Delfel, director of donor engagement with Community Link, congratulating the top-ranking teams for 2022. Abby Brandon-Livits from the National Down Syndrome Society talked about their partnership with Community Link and other organizations across the country making the Buddy Walk possible in many different cities. John Huelskamp, the executive director of Community Link, then gave his opening remarks about the significance of this event and how much of a positive impact the Buddy Walk has had on Community Link year after year. Bryce Albers, the son of Jessica Byrd, nursing coordinator at Community Link, then did a great job singing the National Anthem.

At 11am, the Buddy Walk began. The one-mile walk takes participants through the community of Breese, and finishes back at the park again. The Breese Fire Department led the walk with their fire truck. A horse from the Chakota Therapeutic Riding Center followed the sea of people and was at the park for welcomed attention throughout the day.

After the walk, the party began. For the first time, Community Link participants showcased and sold handmade items along the Walk of Art. Attendees supported Community Link programs with a 50/50 raffle, a silent action, and a Quilt Raffle. Linda Timmermann was the winner of the one-of-a-kind quilt made from Buddy Walk t-shirts.

Food vendors at this year’s event included Friday’s Gourmet Eats, Truckeria Del Valle, Pig on a Wing, Fantastic Pops, and Suits Me BBQ. Beer was available from the JCP Organization at the concession stand. Sodas from Excel Bottling, including the limited-run Golden Mile, and sub sandwiches from the Red Porch Café were also available.

There were many other activities filling up the afternoon including yard games, pumpkin painting, cookie decorating, and balloon animals. Community Link is grateful to friends at UNCOMN for volunteering and providing the supplies for the fun activities.

The 50th Anniversary Ceremony began at 12:30, where many of our participants were recognized for their years of service to Community Link. Mike and David were at the forefront of this ceremony, as they have been with the organization since its inception in 1972. Previous staff, board, and community members who have furthered the mission of Community Link over the years were recognized.

Community Link’s first ever Best Buddy Dog Show began at 1pm. There were 20 dogs and a turtle lined up for this competition. The judges, who were participants and staff of Community Link, had the fun but challenging job of scoring each contestant. The winners for each of the five categories were Lady for “Best Dressed”, Apollo for “Waggiest Tail”, Murphy for “Best Personality”, Paris for “Most Talented”, and Molly for “Best Groomed”. The competition for the Best Buddy in Show was tough, but Apollo ended up taking the top prize. The show emcee Jackson Hoffmann kept everyone informed and entertained as the dogs performed their tricks and showed off their costumes. Prizes were distributed by Miss Clinton County Fair Queen, Candace Schomaker.

The day wrapped up with a Community Link CILA versus Day Program Staff bragging rights kick ball game. It was an action packed but friendly competition, with the Day Program Staff taking home the trophy with a victory.

Community Link is grateful to their presenting sponsors Knights of Columbus Breese Council #2869, Poettker Construction, The Knights of Columbus - Niemeyer Agency, Dairy King, HSHS St Joseph’s Hospital Breese, and Bradford National Bank and gold sponsors Carlyle Knights of Columbus Bingo, Excel Bottling Company, FCB Banks, Trenton Knights of Columbus Council #2932, First National Bank of Sandoval, Clinton Manor, CANCER SUCKS! (In loving memory of Dawn Schomaker), AVH Ink & Vinyl, Breese Optimist Club, and Monken Nissan Monken Toyota, as well as its numerous silver and bronze sponsors. They also appreciate the many local business who donated goods and services to make the day a great celebration.

Silver Sponsors: Representative Charlie Meier, Jansen Chevrolet, Carlyle Knights of Columbus Council 1382, K&J Chevrolet, Litteken Construction, Kohrmann Electric, Dieterich Bank, Shelter Logic Group, Foppe Ace Hardware, Spencer Homes, B-Dry Solutions, Azar Orthodontics, Community Transportation Development, Kassen Excavating, CC Food Marts, Southern Bus & Mobility, Love You More Foundation, Jim's Formal Wear, Busey Bank, Foppe Insurance Agency, and Bartelso Knights of Columbus.

Bronze Sponsors: Henken Storage, The First National Bank in Carlyle, Cook Tractor Co, Tonnies Service Co, Imming Insurance Agency, Wilke Window & Door, American Legion Post 1239, Clinton County YMCA, Breese / Highland Dental Care, Clinton Country Electric Cooperative, Engelmann Concrete Construction, Southern OB/GYN, Koetting Insurance and Resource Agency, UNCOMN, and COBRAA Powder Coating.

Community Link is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities through a person-centered approach that promotes self-directed living choices and community integration opportunities. The mission of Community Link is to offer opportunities for growth and independence for people with developmental disabilities.