Father and daughter walk across Colorado to support inclusion for those with disabilities | SummitDaily.com

Father and daughter walk across Colorado to support inclusion for those with disabilities

Emma and Dan Perritano are pictured on Wednesday, June 2, as they walk along Colorado Highway 9 as part of their journey through Colorado.
Photo by Jonathan Knopf

Father and daughter duo Dan and Emma Perritano are walking through Colorado on an annual pilgrimage to raise money for an important cause, spend time together and give Emma, who has cerebral palsy and must make the journey in a wheelchair, the opportunity to participate in an epic endurance event.

The two traveled from their home in Erie, Pennsylvania, to start their walk in Mountain Home, Wyoming, which is near the Colorado border. The Perritanos will walk south through Colorado and end their journey in Antonito, a town near the southern border. The Perritanos’ journey will cover about 320 miles and is expected to take about 22 days of walking, plus a few rest days.

Dan and Emma began their trek on May 27, making their way down through Walden and Kremmling. They passed through Silverthorne on their way toward Breckenridge on Wednesday, June 2, expecting to conquer Hoosier Pass over the weekend.

At home in Erie, Dan and Emma often walk when the weather is nice, but for the past few years their summer tradition is to do a long walk, such as their trek across Pennsylvania in 2015. Dan explained that the motivation behind the walk is part fundraiser and part enjoyment.

“We got this buggy, and she loved it,” Dan said, referring to Emma’s Hoyt running chair. “She absolutely flipped out. She likes being in it; she’s as happy as can be. … We always walk for an organization, but that’s not the main motive. We just walk because we like to.”

Jane Brady, Emma Perritano and Dan Perritano, from left, on Wednesday, June 2, after a day walking in Summit County as part of their journey through Colorado.
Photo by Taylor Sienkiewicz / tsienkiewicz@summitdaily.com

This year’s cause is Ainsley’s Angels of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities experience endurance events as well as building awareness about the community through inclusion in all different aspects of life. So far, the Perritanos have raised $12,000 for the nonprofit.

Emma’s mom, Jane Brady, who is driving alongside Emma and Dan to take them to hotels at night for some of the journey, explained that while Emma is nonverbal, she is receptive to verbal communication and loves to listen to music while on walks.

“We just want her to have as normal (of a) life as possible,” Dan said as he poked fun at Emma for playing with her food. “We’re silly.”

Brady said that the annual walk is a nice way for the family to take some time to focus on Emma.

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