When she was eight years old, Selah Bucciferro wanted to be part of the Jr. Bix. Unfortunately for her, back then, accommodations weren’t provided for disabled children.
On Friday, Selah, now 25, was handing out medals to children who were in the special needs race at the Alcoa Jr. Bix 7.
Selah’s mother, Kathy Bucciferro, 65, said her daughter has autism spectrum disorder. Kathy has been coordinating and organizing volunteers of the special needs group for 16 years, and was one of the vocal voices when it came to advocating for a special needs section at the Jr. Bix.
After that incident, Kathy said, she and another family had pulled ideas together to come up with a special needs race for the Jr. Bix.
“I started doing it (volunteering) because when the race first started, I had a disabled daughter. When she came down to the race with her sister, it was too much for her and she didn’t feel safe,” she said.
Besides volunteering for the special needs race at the Jr. Bix, Kathy is currently on the board of the Arc of Scott County, a community-based organization that advocates for, and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
“It was very important to me for my daughter to be able to participate in as many community activities as she could,” she said. “It’s very important to me that all children are able to participate in all activities to the best of their abilities. And that means sometimes they might need some accommodation, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Kathy said she wanted people to know that it’s important to put “people first, disability second", adding that she notices that sometimes people can’t see past a special needs person’s disability.
Due to the efforts of Kathy and others, children with special needs have been able to participate in the Jr. Bix 7 since 2000.
For five-year-old Katie Moore, a daily routine involves walkers or crutches.
Katie has spastic diplegia, a condition that increases her muscle tones in the hips and legs, and it weakens her torso, Jen Moore, Katie’s mother said.
But on Friday, Katie had reached a new milestone — she had been participating in the Jr. Bix for four years now.
“She really likes to do all the things that everybody else is doing,” said Jen. “She just has to do it a bit differently.”
Jen said her family tries to do everything they can to ensure that Katie, is able to a part of “everything”.
While many of the kids running the Jr. Bix were there for fun, it was serious business for Avaia Mayes, 7, of Davenport.
Holding a big No. 7, Mayes won her age group by a wide margin, said her cousin, Cleunia Young. “She beat them by a nice distance,” Young said.
Mayes said this race is a warmup for what’s to come as she heads to the AAU Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas, being held next week.
Mayes’ mother, Saterrica Mayes, said that “our whole family ran in school.” Now, she said, her daughter is carrying the family torch forward.
For Aida Kaffenberger, 6, of Bettendorf, this year’s Jr. Bix was a chance to move from running with the smaller kids on 3rd Street, to running with the bigger kids on 4th Street.
“I liked it,” Aida said of her experience. “It was a lot of fun.”
Aida’s parents, Aaron and Courtney Kaffenberger, brought along the family dog, Lucy, to watch Aida run.
“She’s been doing this since the Diaper Dash,” said Courtney Kaffenberger, Aida's mother.
As for Courtney, she normally runs the Bix 7, but instead, this year, she’s running the Quick Bix. “Our son, Ian, who is 14, is a runner for Pleasant Valley. He wants to try and finish the Bix in 44 minutes and I want to be waiting at the finish line for him.”
With the younger kids running on 4th Street, Sidney Stegall, 3, of Davenport, took off. A tough little girl, according to her parents Stevie Valdez and Michael Stegall, she bulled her way through.
“She’s a social butterfly who’s always on the go,” said Michael Stegall, chuckling. “When she was running she had to pull everybody out of the way so she could be first. She did good. She loved it.”