Ricky’s Walking Warriors

 

 

            Back in 2014, Ricky’s Walking Warriors started a tradition that would continue for years, inspire many, and raise incredible amounts of money for Down Syndrome Indiana at The Buddy Walk Indianapolis. Ricky, the leader of the team, is just as the name suggests; a warrior. Throughout his life, he has been challenged with different diagnoses and limitations. With each obstacle, Ricky has been a fighter and overcome the limits that are placed in front of him.

 

               On October 5, 2019, Ricky will be leading his team in his fifth year at the Buddy Walk Indianapolis. Each year, Ricky and his team of families and friends challenge themselves to raise ten times his age in donations. “We picked that as our goal because we feel he has accomplished at least ten times more than anyone ever thought he would,” his sister and legal guardian, Cheryl, speaks so highly of the growing team that walks with Ricky each year. She also has nothing but positive words to say about Down Syndrome Indiana, “We love all the work that DSI does to assist and provide answers and hope for families. The new parent packets that they provide to parents that just received an unexpected diagnosis of down syndrome are invaluable. DSI is there with them every step of the way giving guidance and assurance.” Cheryl has seen the community change immensely since Ricky was born, “In 1960, when Ricky was born, there were no organizations like this for my parents to turn to for answers or support. My parents were strongly advised that it would be best for everyone to place Ricky in an institution and just forget him. They were aware if they disregarded this recommendation they would be completely on their own. My parents just decided they would take him home anyway and just put him in with the rest of the kids and let us all grow up together.” Down Syndrome Indiana is among many organizations that have helped to change the perspective around special needs. Through DSI, parents can find resources and guidance to caring for a child with special needs. With that assistance, that child might grow up to be as moving as Ricky has been.

 

               From a young age, Cheryl saw how extraordinary and intelligent Ricky was. She noted that he was loving and caring and her and her other siblings loved playing with him and teaching him new things as he grew up. As Ricky grew up, he attended various special education schools and at home his seven siblings helped him learn to read and write. “There were many things that Ricky needed our help to learn but now looking back he taught us so much more than we could ever teach him. Ricky has taught us to slow down and enjoy life, be more compassionate, and how to be the best employee through hard work and being a dependable worker.”

 

               Ricky’s unconditional love might be his most notable characteristic. Most that have crossed paths with Ricky would note his loving smile, warm hugs, and positive attitude. Recently, on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), Ricky bought doughnuts and delivered them to the officers at the Avon Police Department. The police department was so touched by Ricky’s kind gesture and sweet smile that they donated $735.00 to Ricky’s Buddy Walk Fund. The donation wasn’t the only good news that day as Ricky received the news from Down Syndrome Indiana that if he reached $5,000, he would be on a billboard. The Avon Police Department has continued to be a big supporter of Ricky’s Walking Warriors as they work towards their goal of raising $5,000. Ricky has formed a special bond with Chief Sean Stoops as they have been interviewed by several news sources. Ricky’s one small random act of kindness has inspired so many and built strong relationships, but that is what Ricky has been doing his whole life- inspiring others.

 

               Ricky and his team of Ricky’s Walking Warriors will continue to raise money for the Buddy Walk Indianapolis that will take place on October 5, 2019. This summer, Ricky’s great nieces and nephews will have lemonade stands to raise money for him. Join his team in raising money by visiting his donation page. Follow Ricky’s journey at his Facebook page. Learn more about Down Syndrome Indiana and how you can be a part of the Buddy Walk.

 

Emma Benner

Emma Benner

Social Media Intern

Emma is a student-athlete at Purdue University majoring in Kinesiology and on the cross country and track and field teams. She has been involved in the special needs community for many years as a coach with Special Olympics Minnesota, and  as a personal care assistant/respite sitter. She has worked in media, marketing, and journalism with various organizations. When Emma has some free time, she enjoys riding horses (she grew up doing barrel racing), baking doughnuts and cake pops (yum!), pursuing her new art interest (wood burning, painting, or drawing), or going for a long run in sunny weather (her favorite!).