Local mom Cathy White has organized a Walk for Apraxia in honor of her son Curtis. The event not only honors her son, but all the local children that suffer from Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
A neurological motor speech disorder, also referred to as CAS, affects only 1 or 2 children per 1,000, though some experts say this number is on the rise. Curtis was diagnosed just before his third birthday.
Trina Pryor and Jill Payne, co-owners of Simply Therapy, knew of White’s commitment to raising awareness of the disorder, and the three began brainstorming a fundraising walk they wanted to launch in late 2019 or 2020.
When the community reacted so strongly in support of Aparaxia Awareness Day on May 14, they decided to fast track their Apraxia walk launch.
The local walk will take place in Moreland Park on Aug. 24, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Because the Louisville walk is set for the end of September, Owensboro will hold the first official Apraxia Walk in the state, raising awareness and funding for Apraxia programs.
Both Pryor and Payne said they had never planned event like this before, although they attend many of the local walks. First-time experiences did not stop Pryor from taking on the role of walk coordinator and Payne assisting.
The walk currently has 300 registrations, but White expects more to be added as the date gets closer.
“Thirteen stars are coming for the walk, with one from Nashville [Tenn.], Henderson and McLean County,” Cathy said. “This really is a celebration for our Apraxia stars to recognize them for all of their hard work to find their voice.”
With only three months to plan the inaugural event, the organizers have found the City of Owensboro easy to work with. Sponsors — 12 in total — for the walk have also been quick to jump on board, after the organizers explain Apraxia.
“Our first priority is to raise awareness,” White said of her mission to help support Apraxia families.
White hopes the walk will serve as a literal representation of community support. Along the walk will be signs that highlight each of the Apraxia stars participating in the walk.
Using Facebook, speech and language clients, personal messages and word of mouth, Cathy said that 14 teams are signed up.
“Our goal for the first year was to raise $10,000 and have 300 people participate,” she said.
And although they have met that goal, the three women are not stopping.
“We really want to expand on this and while most are local this year, we hope it will become more of a regional event in the future,” White said, adding that she hopes that more see the event’s momentum on social media and sign up in the upcoming weeks.
White, Pryor and Payne attended the Apraxia Kids National Conference July 11-13 in Pittsburgh, Pa., along with other local SLPs that have worked with Curtis. The national conference is the only major conference “on the speech, language, learning, and life needs of children with Apraxia,” according to the Apraxia Kids website.
The first meeting White attended at the conference was a walk coordinator meeting, where she learned what an impact the Owensboro walk was already making.
“They [other coordinators and organizers] were surprised at how quickly we had raised money and gotten participants,” she said. “They were actually blown away by how much we had accomplished, especially since we are a smaller community for a walk.”
The walk will be family-friendly and the coordinators hope the event is one that people go home and promote to other families, growing participation for next year.
“You see the ripple effects of it,” Cathy said. “It just means so much to me to have friends — and the community — supporting us on this journey.”