Nonprofit pledges donation to Bridge to Independence

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University’s Bridge to Independence program will receive a donation from the nonprofit, Blessed by Downs, that will be used to help the students in the program start an herb garden.

The local nonprofit plans to donate the proceeds from their Third Annual 5k run to the program. That money will be used to buy the equipment needed for the students to build the garden. Students will work with faculty from the biology department and their herbs will be used by the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

“We’re excited to be a part of this event and appreciate the support from Blessed by Downs,” said Mary Breaux, Bridge to Independence advisor. “A large part of the certificate program within Bridge to Independence is for students to learn independent living and work skills. Planting, caring for, harvesting, sorting, cleaning, processing and packaging the herbs will prepare our students for the workforce in a variety of settings.”

Blessed by Downs will host its Sixth Annual Buddy Walk and Third Annual 5k on Saturday, Oct. 14 in Peltier Park. The 5k will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the Buddy Walk will begin immediately after the run ends. Registration for the Buddy Walks costs $18 before Oct. 14 and $20 the day of the walk, and registration for the 5k costs $30 before and $35 the day of the race.

After the Buddy Walk, there will be family-friendly activities and music by The Good Feelin’ Band.

This year, the Nicholls Student Government Association purchased 66 spots for Nicholls students to enter the race.

“Nicholls’ Bridge to Independence program is one that will enhance our children’s education and future by giving these students an opportunity to be just like everyone else,” said Sheri DeFelice, founder of Blessed by Downs.

Bridge to Independence assists students with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder with job and social skills. Nicholls’ program is one of only 50 programs in the United States certified by the U.S. Department of Education and the only in Louisiana.

Formed in Thibodaux in 2009, Blessed by Downs is a nonprofit that promotes education, inclusion and acceptance for individuals with down syndrome.