from Manhattan Beach Patch by Ann Louise Bannan:
Waving to all of the people who lined the five-mile-plus Tournament of Roses Parade route was pretty tiring, but Caley Versfelt, of Manhattan Beach, found a way to make it work.
"I put my arm down, then I put it back up," she said.
Versfelt, age 20, who has Down Syndrome, was one of 10 young women and girls chosen to represent the different levels of Girl Scouting on the flower be-decked float that was part of yesterday's big parade. Each float rider was selected based on their Girl Scout history, accomplishments and achievements in community service, according to a Girl Scout website.
Filled with images of scouting and its activities, from robotics to the famous cookies, the float, which celebrates the Girl Scouts of America's 100-year anniversary, was accompanied by 60 Gold and Silver Girl Scouts and a color guard.
Versfelt first joined the Girl Scouts when she was in kindergarten for the reason many girls do - to make friends.
"It was a welcoming group for her," Shail Versfelt, Caley's mom, told Manhattan Beach Patch, noting that her daughter tended to do well in organized groups.
When the family moved to Manhattan Beach, they found Troop #277, and Caley went on to earn her Silver and Gold Awards - comparable to the Eagle Award in Boy Scouts.
Scouting has been a good fit for Caley, said her mom, stretching Caley beyond what she might have otherwise accomplished. In fact, says Versfelt, from early on Carley seemed to try harder when she was with other scouts than she would when with her family only.
Last February, Caley traveled with Girl Scouts to Puerto Rico, without her family.
"I was really scared at first," she said, adding that once she'd had the experience, "It inspired me to travel more."
For sure, Caley's good works don't begin and end with the Girl Scouts. She has mentored children and adults with special needs and raises funds for The Friendship Circle, an organization that helps children with special needs find friends and participate in activities. She also attends UCLA through the university's GenerationNeXt program.
Indeed, Caley is always up for a challenge. For Caley, the challenge of the Rose Parade was seeing all the people lining the parade route, which was, she told MB Patch, a little scary. The weather was notable, too, she said.
"It was cold in the beginning," she recalled of parade day. "Then in the middle, it was warming up and I was sweating."
Would she ride a float again? You bet!
"I really enjoyed it," she said.