September 18, 2023
A SUPER Day for the 17th Annual Community Link Buddy Walk
Breese, IL – A super sunny day highlighted another great year for the 17th Annual Community Link Buddy Walk at Breese Northside Park on Saturday, September 16. Over 1200 super members of the community registered to celebrate the superpowers of all of our loved ones with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. As of the end of the event on Saturday, Community Link has raised $122,500 of their $125,000 goal with the support of family, friends, and sponsors. Community Link feels confident that the total goal will be met through the continued generosity of the community.
The day began with a morning concert by Jesse James entertainment out of Nashville, TN. Followed by an opening ceremony with Michelle Delfel, director of donor engagement, and Katie Newman, communications and outreach manager of Community Link thanking and congratulating the sponsors and top fundraising teams to date. Community Link’s executive director, John Huelskamp, spoke about how the walk sends a powerful message showing Community Link’s vision that all individuals are valued for their presence and contributions. 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, followed by a sea of people, some in superhero capes and masks, some with signs honoring their loved ones, all showing their support for the participants of Community Link.
The park was a bustle of activity before and after the walk, with emcee Paul Klostermann. Participants from Community Link sold their hand-crafted items once again this year. Arion, a horse with Chakota Therapeutic Riding Center, and volunteers attended to show support. Attendees supported Community Link programs with a 50/50 raffle, a silent action, and a raffle made possible by a donation of a Weber Grill from Foppe Ace Hardware. Andrea Toennies won the Weber Grill and Christine Garcia won the second-place prize, a pizza oven. Donna Litteken won the 50/50 raffle and generously donated a portion to help Community Link towards its goal.
Michelle’s Mashers, one of the 47 Buddy Walk teams in attendance, had two other raffles to support the organization. One raffle, donated by CC Food Marts, was for ten $100 shell gift cards to celebrate 100 years of being a locally family-owned business. The other was for St. Louis Blues alumni suite tickets. See the video of winners at the CC Food Marts Facebook page.
Food vendors at this year’s event included Suits Me BBQ, Fantastick Pops, Sip N Scoot Mobile Café, and Taco Jo’s. The Red Porch Café had seasonal food items and made-to-order sandwiches. Sodas were donated from Excel Bottling and water was donated from Dieterich Bank.
There were many other activities filling up the afternoon including yard games, mask painting, and cookie decorating. Community Link is grateful to friends at UNCOMN and D&G Support Services for volunteering and providing the supplies for the fun activities.
Community Link has its Second Annual Super Buddy Dog Show at 12pm. There were 20 dogs registered for the 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 Pugzlie for “Best Dressed”, Teddy for “Waggiest Tail”, Paxson for “Best Personality”, and Tipsy for “Most Talented”. The competition for the Best Buddy in Show was tough, but Paxson ended up taking the top prize.
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.
Donations can still be made at the Community Link website commlink.org/buddywalk. Further information about the walk, sponsors, and ways to stay involved will be shared on the organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/commlink1972.
Community Link is especially grateful to the many sponsors who have made the walk possible over the years including presenting sponsors: HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, Bradford National Bank, The Knights of Columbus – Niemeyer Agency, Poettker Construction, Excel Bottling Co, and Breese Knights of Columbus.
Gold sponsors: Carlyle Knights of Columbus, Trenton Knights of Columbus, Litteken Construction Co, DBA Custom Woodworking, Sievers Equipment Co, Klostermann State Farm Insurance, Scott Credit Union, Monken Chrysler Nissan, Clinton Manor, AVH Ink & Vinyl, Breese Optimists, FCB Banks, Cancer Sucks!, Rehkemper & Son, Rep Charlie Meier, Foppe Ace Hardware, and Christ Church.
Silver Sponsors: Highland Knights of Columbus, Albers/Damiansville Knights of Columbus, Kassen Excavating, Shelley Kenow IEP Consultant, First National Bank of Sandoval, Kohrmann Electric, Dairy King, Breese Journal and Publishing, Busey Bank, Southern Bus & Mobility, Bartelso Knights of Columbus, Shelter Logic Group, Love You More Foundation, Dieterich Bank, Jim’s Formal Wear, Across All Ages Physical Therapy, CC Food Marts, and Wade’s Reliable Lawncare.
Bronze Sponsors: Imming Insurance Agency, Toennies Service Co, Henken Storage, American Legion Post 1239, The Machhoffs, V&H Recreation, Clinton County Electric Cooperative, Foppe Insurance Agency, Wilke Window and Door, K&J Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Engelmann Concrete Construction, Community Bank, Kohrmann Bros Masonry, The First National Bank in Carlyle, Vietnam Vets Chapter 269, Kloss Furniture, Paylocity, Clinton County YMCA, Southern OB/GYN, Trouw Nutrition USA, UNCOMN, B-Dry Solutions, D&G Support Services.
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. For more information visit commlink.org.