Ari Cohen is only 9 years old, but he somehow managed to recruit about 40 family members and friends to come together for a special occasion in his honor.
The contingent nicknamed Ari’s Army participated in the Friendship Circle’s Third Annual 3K Walk last weekend around the perimeter of Pine Trails Park in Parkland.
Proceeds from the event help area children, like Cohen, with special needs.
Cohen’s mother, Leah, explained the motive behind her family’s participation. Right now, her son is fighting an everyday battle with a rare chromosomal disorder.
“My son is in the fight of his life, and we call our group an army because we are doing all we can to fight for him,” Leah said. “Besides the walking and healthy aspect of the event, it’s one of the happiest days of my son’s life, and we’ll all remember that.”
The event, which follows the motto “I Walk for Friendship,” was brought to South Florida eight years ago because of other successes with it around the country. The walk was capped-off with a carnival and a variety of family-fun activities.
The 3k walk attracted more than 850 participants and grossed about $82,000.
“This day is dedicated to the kids,” said Sarah Biston, the director of the Friendship Circle of North Broward and South Palm Beach counties. “We’ve seen other Friendship Circles have a lot of success with the 3k walk and it’s a wonderful way to get people involved to give a little something extra.”
The Friendship Circle covers a vast area of needs for the children and their families. From sibling workshops and a friends-at-home program, to respite care and various interactive programs, every cent collected at the event and throughout the year makes a difference.
“The funds are very beneficial to these kids,” said Leah Cohen, who helps Ari in his special needs stroller. “This event is such a fun atmosphere where everyone comes together for a few hours for the same reason.”
Although the event has concluded, donations are always accepted. Email iwalk4friendship @gmail.com, or call 954-970-9551.