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Support ‘Walkabout Abilities’

Annual event benefits the Abilities Network.

More than 300 people attended last year’s “Walkabout Abilities.”

More than 300 people attended last year’s “Walkabout Abilities.”

— Where do you turn when, out of the blue, your child or family member has an epileptic seizure? Is there someone to ask if a loved one with disabilities needs to become self-supporting? Where can someone with an autistic child find support? The Abilities Network offers solutions to all these problems and more. The 6th annual “Walkabout Abilities” will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30 to raise funds for the contributions that the Abilities Network makes to families in the area and across the United States.

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Sam Coleman and his son Riley.

Sam and Lisa Coleman discovered the Abilities Network several years ago when their son Riley who was 7 years old had the first of many seizures and then was consequently diagnosed with epilepsy — a disorder that no one in his family had ever had. Sam Coleman describes how devastating the diagnosis was to their family: “We felt as if we were in a dark hole — and did not know where to turn or what to do. We knew nothing about epilepsy. We needed information, support and education. We were afraid to let him out of our sight.”

Riley, who attends Bells Mill Elementary School in Potomac is vibrant, athletic and has a drive for success. He loves to play all sports but basketball is his favorite. He also plays flag football, soccer and takes karate and he wants to play football when he gets old enough. In other words, Riley is a normal boy who is constantly on the go.

“The Abilities Network gave us all kinds of practical information,” said Coleman. They provided us with a library of information, doctors that we could talk to and other parents who could give us support and advice on how to best help our son. We wanted to keep his life as normal as possible. The Abilities Network helped us to realize that Riley can do everything and anything. They taught us how to advise and work with the schools, coaches and activity sponsors. We feel fortunate because Bells Mill Elementary has been just phenomenal. The staff has been exceptionally caring and concerned about him.”

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Photo contributed

Baskin Robbins supports “Walkabout Abilities.”

Coleman is encouraging the Potomac area community to come out to the WalkAbout Abilities on Sept. 30. The 1.5 mile Family Fun walk will take place on the grounds of Baltimore’s Goucher College. The event will feature breakfast and other refreshments — including Baskin Robbins ice cream donated by Coleman who owns a Baskin Robbins store, a DJ, entertainment and activities for children of all ages. Registration is from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., the event runs from 9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and activities will take place from 12 – 1 p.m. General registration is $15 for adults and children 12 and over, $10 for children 11 and under. Children 3 and under are free. Sponsorships are available and donations are welcome. Information, registration and directions are available at www.walkaboutabilities.com. Participants will receive a T- shirt, goodie bag and sponsor gift bags.

“My goal is to create awareness about the Abilities Network and to raise funds to support the unique services that they provide,” Coleman said. “They are a magnificent organization, and I’m afraid that too few people have ever heard of them. Last year, over 300 people attended. In five years, we have raised more than $325,000. This year, the Baltimore Raven Mascot Poe, and Raven players Terrance Cody and Laquan Williams will be attending. These two football players, along with the Ravens organization have supported the walk throughout the years. We will also have a silent auction with outstanding auction items.”

The Abilities Network is a non-profit 501-c3 organization that provides customized services to children, adults and seniors to promote more inclusive communities. The members of this organization “see abilities, not disabilities.” Its six main programs are: Autism Services, Community and Employment Partners, Epilepsy Services (in partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake Region – EFCR), Healthy Families Baltimore County, Project ACT - All Children Together, and Senior Services. Find out more about its work at www.abilitiesnetwork.org.