This post is written by Stephanie Bell, an Alpha Xi Delta Alumna from the University of Delaware and the Chair of the New York City Walk Now for Autism Speaks.
Perhaps it was the feeling of wanting to make a small difference in the big city. Perhaps it was me looking for a new pastime, or maybe even a way to hold onto my college experience just a little while longer. Whatever the impetus, it was my experience with Autism Speaks through Alpha Xi Delta that led me to join the Walk Now NYC Committee, and has shaped my past three years with this amazing organization.
I’ll never forget the first Autism Speaks walk I attended with my sisters at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. Looking around that day, speaking with families, and seeing the impact the walk had on attendees was a pivotal moment. I was touched by the sense of community, and when I found myself in New York City searching for that communal spirit, I knew just the place to look.
I have truly met the most amazing people through my experience with Autism Speaks. As a team mentor, I had the privilege of talking with team captains about why they walk. I am consistently blown away by the passion the parents and families give to this community on a daily basis. They are some of the most patient, loving, and dedicated souls I have ever met.
In 2013, I had the honor of serving as NYC Walk Chair. Seeing nearly 25,000 people arrive at Citi Field on that chilly morning in May is an image I will hold onto for a very, very long time. It will never cease to amaze me the good people can do when we work together.
At a recent volunteer conference, a presenter referred to the crowd as “drafted” and “enlisted”. There are those who help the cause because life has chosen that path; and there are those who give their time because they feel it is the right thing to do. Regardless of our enrollment status, we all want to leave the world a better place than we found it. No matter the cause, I encourage you to pick something you care deeply about and share your time. You’ll change lives, become a part of something bigger than yourself, and meet some incredible people you never even knew you needed along the way.