AbilityFirst, a Pasadena-based nonprofit which evolved from the originally named Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California as an advocate for disability rights, raised over $500,000 during its 2022 Stroll and Roll event, presented by Comerica Bank last Nov. 12 at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
More than 600 people attended the event, AbilityFirst said. Special celebrity guest Jacquelyn Smith, who starred in the Charlie’s Angels television series, was on hand.
The proceeds will help AbilityFirst continue programs that empower children and adults with disabilities throughout Southern California.
The event featured a behind-the-scenes walk around the track and infield, live music and entertainment, about two dozen interactive exhibitors showcasing their products and services, and a beer garden hosted by Golden Road Brewing.
“It was thrilling to be back in person after a two-year hiatus, and we loved seeing so many familiar – and also many new – faces, all while enjoying this great venue with gorgeous mountain views and raising money for programs to empower people with disabilities,” AbilityFirst CEO Lori Gangemi said.
Stroll and Roll 2022 also included live performances from Straight Up Abilities, a professional performance art trainer for people with all abilities, and Movin’ On Up Productions, a hip hop and street style dance production company, plus a special dance performance of “Billie Jean” by Ian Smith, a participant with AbilityFirst College to Career.
The infield performance stage was hosted by AbilityFirst Ambassador Hunter March, and and DJ Severe, the official LA Dodgers DJ, kept the audience grooving between the live performances.
A statement on the organization’s website said AbilityFirst is continuing to fundraise towards the $600,000 goal.
The Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California was organized in 1929 by a group of businessmen from the Los Angeles Rotary Club who reached out to help children affected by the pre-vaccine polio epidemic. In 2000, the group adopted the name AbilityFirst to better reflect its mission, vision, and commitment to celebrating the unique abilities of every individual.
With locations throughout Greater Los Angeles, AbilityFirst offers a broad range of recreational and socialization programs as well as college coaching, supported employment, volunteering and a fully accessible summer camp, Camp Paivika, for both children and adults.
To learn more about AbilityFirst, or to make a donation, visit www.abilityfirst.org.