PLAINVILLE - The 2018 Helen and Danny Coughlin Memorial Walk started with a speech by two family members who were moved to laughs and tears while telling stories about Danny.
The 18th year of the one-mile walk took place on Saturday at Norton Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Danny Coughlin lived with Down syndrome and passed away in April of 2017 at age 59.
“We were so blessed to have him for the short time that we did, he will always remain for me the best person that I ever knew,” David Coughlin, Danny’s brother, said.
Heidi Coughlin, Danny’s sister, focused her remarks on being thankful.
“Gratitude seems to be printed on my face and on my heart and Danny taught me that,” Heidi said. “Gratitude is the word today, I’m very thankful for all of you.”
The walk used to be in memory of Helen Coughlin, Danny’s mother, who was also one of the founding members of Parc. Helen battled with the Connecticut legislature many years ago to allow children with developmental disabilities to attend regular schools. She died in 2004.
Parc is a non-profit organization that provides support services including a day program for people with developmental disabilities.
David said that one of his favorite parts of the event this year was seeing and interacting with the people who receive services from Parc as well as other community supporters.
“Now that Danny is gone we don’t see all those people very much anymore,” David said.
Erica Donovan, executive director of Parc, said the Helen and Danny Coughlin Memorial Walk is one of Parc’s largest fundraisers.
“The fundraising event is for Parc, everything that we bring in directly benefits our members,” Donovan said. The funds that we raise go to healthy living activities, healthy cooking programs, social and recreational programs for them within the community.”
While the event has the purpose of raising funds, the goal was not to raise a specific amount of money.
“We never have a goal, we are just so grateful for everything that we end up getting from our community,” Donovan said.
In addition to the walk and speeches, the event included a raffle and a chili cook-off.
“We have about 12 entrants this year, people make their chili, bring them in crock pots and put them up there,” Donovan said. “It’s all anonymous and participants here can buy a ticket to taste all 12 chilies and then there’s a ballot and you can judge on which one was your favorite.”
The event included music and entertainment from the Plainville Choral Society. The group started its performance by singing the national anthem.
To learn more about Parc visit www.parcdisabilitiesct.org .
Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.