Hayden boy takes center stage at Down syndrome fundraiser in Denver
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An 8-year-old Hayden boy was treated like royalty Sunday in the big city.
Lewis Klecker, the son of Kevin and Carrie Klecker, was born with Down syndrome and was the honorary starter for the Step Up For Down Syndrome walk.
The 21st annual event was celebrating the 21st chromosome. Down syndrome is caused by a third copy of the 21st chromosome.
After a long night of homecoming festivities in Hayden Saturday, the Klecklers left town at 3:30 a.m. Sunday to get to the special event.
As the honorary starter, Lewis was asked to come up on the stage with Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association Executive Director Mac Macsovits.
“Mac asked him if he was ready, and Lewis said ‘ready, set, go,’” which we’ve been practicing,” Carrie Kleckler said.
Lewis and about 30 of Klecklers’ friends and family then set out on their choice of a one or two-mile loop around City Park in Denver.
The Kleckler group, named “Lew’s Crew,” raised nearly $1,500.
“We had nearly 2,800 registered walkers,” Macsovits said. “Given the bad weather, this was down from previous years, but given the circumstances, it made Lewis and his family being in attendance that much more inspiring to our families in attendance.”
The event raised nearly $250,000 for the organization, which provides resources to those who have Down syndrome and their families.
The Klecklers have attended the walk in previous years, but this was the first time all the attention was on Lewis.
“It’s a good cause,” Carrie Kleckler said. “He likes all the attention, music and all that stuff.”
The Klecklers first participated in the walk when Lewis was just seven weeks old.
Carrie Kleckler said it was an especially emotional experience.
“There is just kind of a camaraderie and sense of community because everyone has that connection,” she said.
Shortly after Lewis was born, Carrie Kleckler contacted the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association and asked if there were any support groups in the area.
“They said there was no group up here, but they would support me if I would start one,” Carrie Kleckler.
She started one, and the group meets several times a year.
In October, they will be going to a pumpkin patch, and Santa always visits with the families around Christmas.
Parent Ryan Spaustat has also helped the support group secure grants from the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation as well as the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
The money has allowed the group to bring up speech and physical therapists from the Front Range to provide specialized therapy for children in Northwest Colorado.