The 4th Annual Edmonton Capital Region Walk Now for Autism Speaks was held on Sunday September 11th at Rundle Park in Edmonton, Alberta. With nearly 100 teams and over 1800 walkers in attendance, this was the BIGGEST Walk held in Edmonton to-date. Our walkers have blown our goal out of the park, raising over $166,000…and climbing!
A cool fall Alberta forecast didn’t scare our walkers away! Our opening ceremonies were emceed by Walk Co-Chair Deborah Samagalski – with special help from her twin sons, Kurtis and Brayden. Special guests included Mike Lake, MP for Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont whose son Jaden was the Walk’s Top Fundraiser; Brenda Tyson, incoming President for Rotary Club of NE Edmonton and Canadian research superstar Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum whose work in High Risk Baby Siblings Research Consortium is known worldwide. Lonnie also leads the 2nd Canadian site of Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network and was recently named the Vice-President of INSAR.
A special 9/11 Tribute was held with crowds thanking those First Responders present at our Walk including members from Edmonton Police, Fire and the Canadian Forces Base. Walker Amanda Power was joined by her children and released balloons in recognition of her husband Leonard, currently on a seven month tour in Afghanistan, wishing him and all Canadian soldiers a safe return to their families.
Walking for Our Warriors held the dual distinction of Top Rookie Team and Top Overall Team for 2011 and ably steadied the official Walk Banner as Brenda Hargreaves from Toys”R”Us cut the ribbon to get us out on the Walk route. When walkers returned, they greeted and high-5’d Adam Biel, a 25-year old Sherwood Park, AB native, who had been cycling for 24 hours straight, ending at our Walk. In Spring of 2012, Adam will cycle 14,000 miles in 100 days, from Argentina to Alaska in an attempt to break the Pan-American Cycling Speed Record, all while raising money and awareness for Autism Speaks.
Cruising the crowd for lots of photo ops and hugs were the 501st Legion dressed in Star Wars character costumes and Toys“R”Us’ very own crowd favourite, Geoffrey. Not to be outdone, the Edmonton Police and Fire Fighters were onsite, and they brought along police cruisers and fire engines for kids to check out. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Canadian Forces Base Edmonton rolled up in a Coyote tank.
There are so many people to thank for making this an incredible day! To the Rotary Club Northeast Edmonton, for sponsoring the Kids Entertainment Zone, which included bouncy castles, face painters, balloon artists, and popcorn carts. To our Walk Chairs Geoff and Deb Samagalski for their ongoing support before, during, and after the Walk. To Starbucks for keeping our walkers warm by providing complimentary coffee. Thank you to Landscape Structures, for another year of incredible sponsorship and to Dan Warketin for his photography. Thank you to all the service providers that participated in our Resource Fair. To all of our dedicated volunteers - we do not know where we would be without you! And lastly, thank you to all of the families and donors for supporting this event and the mission of Autism Speaks Canada! This walk was only a huge success because of YOUR efforts!
More photos are available by visiting our Facebook Page. For more information on the Edmonton Walk, or how to become involved in the planning of our 5th Anniversary Walk in 2012, please contact Autism Speaks Canada at 1-888-362-6227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.