The Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks hosted the eighth annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Saturday, May 21 at Soldier Field. This family-friendly three-mile Walk along Chicago’s Lakefront increased autism awareness and funds research into the causes, treatment and a cure for autism. The Walk attracted 20,000 participants coming together to change the future for everyone who struggles with autism, raising more than $1.4 million and counting! The event commenced with Chicago’s own local recording artist, Andrew Salgado, and Grammy award winner and co-founder of Survivor, Jim Peterik, on the main stage inside Soldier Field. Events sponsors, including Lord and Taylor, Toys R’ Us, the Chicago Blackhawks, Campbell for Kids, Fifth Third Bank, White Castle, and many more were in attendance to show their support and to celebrate the day with thousands of families. Participants were able go on Soldier Field to take pictures with Star Wars characters, Geoffrey the Giraffe of Toys'R' Us, and to play in bouncy houses.
This entertainment led to many smiling faces and laughs as many participants have shared on the Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter’s Facebook page. Teams enjoyed music along the route by B96, KISS FM, KHITS and the World Performance Team at different check points.
Iconic views of Chicago during the Walk included Buckingham Fountain, the lakefront, Field Museum and, of course, Soldier Field. “Walk day is a special opportunity for families to get together for a day of fun in support of this important cause while also raising awareness about autism in our community said Tricia Brouwers, this year’s Walk Co-Chair.” After the Walk, attendants partook in the family-friendly after-party and resource fair.
The Resource Fair featured community service providers and other vendors such as JoRide Bicycles, Easter Seals of Metropolitan Chicago, The Autism Program of Illinois, the Chicago Autism Connection, the Family Clinic at UIC and Grupo SALTO in order to better educate supporters on autism and the resources available for them. “This event is powered by volunteers and families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.
Participants and sponsors generate vital funds for autism research, awareness and family services,” said Jon Brouwers, this year’s Walk Co-Chair. During the after-party, entertainment was provided by Green 13, Raisin Rhyme and Radio Rock. There was also a petting zoo, snow cones and bouncy houses.
THANK YOU to all who helped make this year's Chicagoland Walk a HUGE success!