Long Beach's boardwalk is usually dominated by beachgoers casually strolling and cycling, but Sunday afternoon, hundreds gathered to walk for a cause.
The second annual Out on a Limb Walk brought out a crowd of friends, family, campers and counselors to raise money for Camp No Limits, a summer program for children with amputated limbs and their families. Sunday's walk raised more than $20,000, sponsors said. Last year, about $18,000 was raised.
The event's founder, Robert Schulman, a prosthetist at Ozone Park-based Allied Orthopedics Prosthetics Rehab Center, one of the co-sponsors, said he hoped to raise about $20,000, with all proceeds benefiting the camp. The event was co-hosted by Grandell Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Long Beach, which has a dedicated amputee prosthetic rehab program.
Schulman founded the walk to help raise awareness about youth with limb loss and to help build morale for the community.
"At camp, kids can be around their peers," he said. "They can see that there are people just like them."
Camp No Limits, which began in 2004 with four campers, now has 10 locations across the country and hundreds of attendees. In some ways, it's a typical summer camp with icebreakers and water sports. But here, both children and their families are invited for four- to five-day sessions.
The camp's broader goal is to "educate, empower, and support" young people to develop an independent lifestyle, executive director Mary Leighton said to the crowd Sunday.
Many campers and their families were present, clad in pastel blue camp T-shirts and running shoes. The group was in high spirits, dancing the electric slide and enjoying the weather.
Joshua Kennison, 25, traveled from Maine for the event. Kennison, who was born with partial arms and legs, has been involved with the camp for more than a decade, and now is an adult mentor.
"When I was a kid, I didn't have this. There was no one I could really look up to and learn from," Kennison said. "So now, I want to help kids and have them learn from me."
Irene Roddenberry, 51, of Uniondale, said she was thankful that there is a dedicated camp for children with limb loss. "Everyone battles something in their life and children have enough to go through," she added.
As the walk neared its end, 10-year-old Eric Flynn of Maryland zoomed past the finish line on his scooter. He's been a camper for four years and said his favorite part was doing new activities like obstacle courses. Before Camp No Limits, he'd never been to summer camp
His mother, Darnell Flynn, looked on as he took off on his scooter. "I think he's doing pretty good for losing his legs," she said. "They don't let anything stop him. He's always got a smile on his face."
She credits camp for showing him that there are other children like him and for teaching him to adapt to losing both legs, a casualty of a strep infection five years ago.
One day, she hopes he can play sports.