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Bloomies give to local charity, high-five kids, raise awareness

Mon., May 7, 2012

The tradition of Bloomies tossing excess clothes into trees near the start of the race pays off for Arc of Spokane, a group dedicated to helping those with developmental disabilities.

Fred Meyer, donation program manager, said Arc got about 8,000 pounds of clothing last year and estimated that it will receive “around that much and probably a little bit more” this year.

Arc employees were assisted by a crew of about 16 Geiger Correction Facility inmates, who had to earn the privilege of being part of the work crew, according to an officer overseeing the cleanup effort on Riverside Avenue.

All of the money Arc receives from the sale of the clothes goes toward helping people with disabilities in Spokane.

“Everything we get stays in the community,” Meyer said.

Every big event needs a familiar face, which is why Joyce Wilkens, of Spokane, has run Bloomsday as Raggedy Ann for 22 years.

Wilkens said she wears the getup because it “keeps me going. It really distracts me from all the miles I’m running. I also like giving the kids high-fives.”

This year, Wilkens mixed it up by implementing Raggedy Andy into her costume. She found the doll in an antique store, unstuffed it, and rigged wires inside so she could make the toy wave and blow kisses to the crowd.

Julie Bousquet, of Pasco, ran the course in a T-shirt showing a photo of her daughter, Adrienne. The shirt read, “Say Hi to Adrienne, singing at Mile 6. Please vote for Sequins and Sinatra.”

Bloomsday sponsors a “best entertainer” contest in different categories, and Adrienne Bousquet has finished second twice in the Solo Singer category. This year her mom wore the shirt to pump up the love.

“She’s a great singer, and singing has been her main livelihood,” Julie Bousquet said. Her daughter keeps busy on weekends in the Tri-Cities performing at community events and at wineries, she said.

Margo Padon from Occupy Spokane held up a banner asking Bloomsday participants to keep thinking about social issues.

She and other Occupy supporters had planned to camp overnight Saturday in the triangle of grass at Monroe Street and Riverside Avenue. But that’s a busy spot once the race starts, and police told the occupiers they might get trampled if they stayed. So Padon was the only Occupy representative near the start of the race. Companions were scattered along the course, spreading the loose-knit group’s message about economic inequality, jobs and the environment, among other issues.

“I plan to walk the course,” Padon said.

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