The Bethlehem Town Park was not only filled with the colors and brisk wind of fall on Saturday, Oct. 10, but also dozens of people who turned out for the third annual Jonathan Carey Foundation Walk.
Participants who completed a loop around and through the park also raised money for the foundation, which was founded by the parents of Jonathan Carey, an autistic child who died while in the care of state workers in 2004. Since then, Michael and Lisa Carey have worked to help pass six pieces of legislation that improve protections for disabled adults and children and make state-run institutions more transparent.
But the benefits of Saturday's walk will extend beyond those continuing legislative goals, said Michael Carey. The foundation will pass along funds to a number of other organizations that fight childhood hunger, human sex trafficking and the growing pool of orphans in America and elsewhere.
We really want to make a public stand for children, said Carey. "The more people that get involved today, or on an ongoing basis, the bigger the impact."
Among those who gathered at the park were local politicians and candidates for the upcoming election. Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham said he was proud to have the event held in the town park, and praised those who came out to show their support.
"Unfortunately, it took Jonathan's passing to bring about this level of attention," he said. "Your presence here is a great testament to his legacy."
The Careys had hoped that legacy would include a law that would have increased the penalty for neglecting the disabled to a felony offense. Gov. David Paterson vetoed the bill after it passed through both the assembly and senate, saying that the language needed more clarity.
"I am still really in shock and disbelief he would have done this," Carey said.