AVON, Ind. – In the spring, FOX59 brought you the story of Ricky Hull, an Avon man with down syndrome who had a simple goal of raising a $590 for the annual Down Syndrome Indiana Buddy Walk, which takes place this year on October 5.
However, a lot has happened since that story first aired.
Since then, Ricky has reached local celebrity status. And he's enjoying every second of it.
"He just gets so excited, big smile on his face, he loves it,” said Ricky's sister, Cheryl Carlton.
His relationship with the Avon Police Department has also continued to grow. Last month, they gave Ricky an escort to his birthday party. They also stopped by his lemonade stand and hung out with him during National Night Out.
"Anytime we’re having a sad day, he kind of just cheers everybody up,” said Avon Police Chief Sean Stoops.
With their help, Ricky raised more than 10 times his goal for the annual buddy walk and is now in first place.
Because he raised more than $5,000, Down Syndrome Indiana used Ricky's picture on their billboard advertising for the buddy walk. And his reaction to seeing the sign was priceless.
“It was everything we expected and more," Chief Stoops said. "He just lit up like a candle. The joy in his face, he was stunned for a minute.”
"It was amazing, it really was," Carlton said. "We've really been looking forward to this for so long and for it to finally be there and just have Ricky right here in our own town of Avon where people can drive by and see it, it’s amazing.”
As hundreds of drivers pass by Ricky's smiling face, Carlton hopes it spreads, and gives others with Down syndrome a sign of hope.
“There really is so much their kids or adults are capable of doing that maybe they've been told they would not be able to do, like Ricky was," Carlton said. "There is hope.”
The buddy walk takes place in Indianapolis on October 5. To support Ricky's team, click HERE.