People First to host annual Walk A Thon fundraiser

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Shannon Steedley of Jonesboro has been working for months to line up donations for this year’s annual Walk A Thon for People First of Henry County. She said the walk helps to get the word out about what the nonprofit organization does to help the local special-needs community.

“It’s very important,” said Steedley. “I have raised about $440 for it, and I’ve gotten about 52 people so far to help donate. I’m still raising money, working up to the day of the Walk A Thon, hopefully.”

Families lined the streets at last year’s Ricky Craig Walk A Thon. The 10th annual event will be held Saturday, July 29 and will begin at the Henry County Board of Education. File photo

The 10th annual Ricky Craig Walk A Thon is set for July 29. The walk will begin at the Administrative Offices of Henry County Board of Education Office, 33 N. Zack Hinton Parkway in McDonough. Registration will start at 7:30 a.m., and will begin at 8 a.m., taking participants around the Square downtown. There is no minimum amount required to donate or participate in the walk.

People First will also have a yard sale July 28 and 29 from 8 a.m., to 3 p.m., at 235 Hampton St., in McDonough, to raise money for the group.

Steedley, in addition to participating in various events with People First each year, has also served for five years as a board member for the group. She said she has made a lot of friends and met different people through the Walk A Thon, many of whom express curiosity about her organization.

“They do ask, and we tell them,” said Steedley.

People First raised approximately $16,000 through last year’s Walk A Thon. All funds raised through the walk will go toward providing free socials for special-needs families in Henry County and surrounding areas throughout the year.

Craig, of McDonough, sponsors the walk each year and said the event gives him a way to help people and support a worthy cause at the same time.

“The ladies that run it, I know that they spend all the money on events for the kids to have free social events,” said Craig. “They are awesome, good Christian ladies. They do what’s right for kids with special needs. The good Lord has blessed me, and I think we should give back to the community when we can to help somebody else.”

Craig first became involved with People First through one of its directors, Connie Dodgen. Craig said if not for the work of board members and other supporters of People First, many individuals with special needs would likely be overlooked.

“It warms your heart to see them,” he said. “A lot of these kids wouldn’t get to do any of these kinds of events without this organization. There wouldn’t be a People First without the great sponsors and volunteers that we have.”

More than 100 people laced up their walking shoes for the fundraiser in 2016. Kristy Dobbs, a director of People First, said organizers hope for greater participation this time around.

“We would like to have around 300,” said Dobbs. “We’re really reaching out to businesses, churches, groups and organizations to have them come out and walk. It’s extremely important because if we don’t have the funds, we don’t have the money to offer the socials that we do.”

Dobbs noted that more than 1,000 people, as well as 200 volunteers, showed up earlier this year for People First’s annual Extra Special Easter Party and egg hunt. She is grateful for those in the community who give their time to make such events a success.

“If we didn’t have the volunteers, we definitely wouldn’t be able to hold an event of that size,” she said.

For more information, call Ricky Craig at 770-957-6060 or Kristy Dobbs at 678-520-9846, or e-mail