It takes a special person to inspire 300 people to show up for a 2K walk on a chilly Saturday morning — it takes someone like Edward Seawood.
"This was not something that was hard to do at all … all we had to do was say that there was a walk for Edward, and everybody showed up," said Great Falls resident Julie Casso. "This has been years in the making, and years of him doing beautiful things for us — we just want him to remember the love."
Casso was one of several women who organized the 2K "Friends of Edward Family Fun Walk," held at Forestville Elementary School last Saturday morning, Dec. 2. The goal of the event was to raise money for Seawood, the former building supervisor for Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls.
Over the summer, Seawood was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis — also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Subsequently, Seawood could not remain in his position at Forestville because he is no longer physically able to work. In addition, Seawood lost his wife to cancer earlier this year, and had spent a great deal of money on her health care.
A total of 300 children and adults completed the 2K Family Fun Walk, and over $10,000 was raised.
"I was expecting 150 people and our goal was $3,000, so this is incredible," said Casso.
The members of Friends of Edward wanted to make sure that Seawood's short term needs are met as he waits for his long term disability plan to begin. Several local companies contributed to the event — the Reston Whole Foods, Java Junction, Party Depot, Great Harvest, Melaleuca Wellness Company, Yahoo and the Reston Giant.
"The Reston Whole Foods was absolutely amazing," said Christine Cintron, a member of Friends of Edward, and a Forestville parent. "They donated so much food."
THE FRIENDS OF EDWARD coordinators include Julie Casso, Christine Cintron, Karen Daboll, Dave O'Hara and Lisa Magdaleno. O'Hara, assistant principal at Forestville , and Magdaleno, a teacher at Forestville , led Saturday's walk. Although Friends of Edward is made up of parents and teachers from Forestville, the group is not officially associated with the school. In addition, Fairfax County Police Officer Beverly Sellers helped to organize the walk, and several volunteers also sold ALS bracelets at the event to raise additional funds.
When the walk was completed, parents and children crowded into the Forestville Elementary School cafeteria to snack on donated food and receive donated prizes. The Forestville students also signed a giant poster board card, which was presented to Seawood by Casso. A visibly emotional Seawood stood up for a few minutes to express his gratitude to the community.
"Your love and support has been overwhelming, and I just don't know what to say," said Seawood. "I miss working at the school … and I've been thinking about a lot of things over the last few months — and I guess I'd just like to say that I've learned a lot from all of you, and I'm glad that I have made a positive impression on you."
Seawood has a great love for singing and his voice was well known in the halls of Forestville. Seawood said he missed singing in the school, and took a few minutes to sing a song of thanks to all of those at the Family Fun Walk. When he finished, a sea of children flooded toward him as they each clamored to hug him one by one.
"He is just a lovely, lovely man," said Forestville parent Sheryl Ulepic.