About 200 people, including some in costume, crisscrossed Thurston County in their vehicles on Sunday to raise money for Morningside, a longtime nonprofit in Olympia that provides job placement services to individuals with disabilities.
For the “ride” portion of the event, now in it’s ninth year, teams of two or more gathered at Olympia High School and then set off in their cars to answer 53 questions about various landmarks in the county. Following that, the teams met two hours later at the Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel event center in south Thurston County for breakfast and to acknowledge winners and hear more about Morningside’s services.
The theme of this year’s ride was the movies, so many participants showed up in costume and posed for photos. Among them was Shirley Jones, who dressed as Robin Hood, and Teriann Hawkeswood, dressed as Maid Marian. Both are local business owners, and both said it was their first time participating in the event. They enjoyed it so much they plan to do it again, they said.
The event raises about $30,000, mostly from sponsorships, for high school transition programs, said longtime President and Chief Executive Jim Larson. The programs help individuals with disabilities transition to the working world from special education classes in high school, he said.
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Morningside has been around for 53 years and was created to give people with disabilities an opportunity to work. Before its creation, people with disabilities often stayed at home or were institutionalized, Larson said.
Since then, Morningside has grown to five locations and placed more than 200 people in jobs in 2015, he said.
Because he works in job placement, Larson said he is always queried about the state of the economy. During the Great Recession, job placement was tough because individuals with disabilities are sometimes the first to be let go. But the economy has improved since then, he said, and Morningside could hit 250 job placements this year.