A rainy set-up day and grey skies threatened the 9th annual Philadelphia Walk Now for Autism Speaks, but the storm clouds cleared and more than 13,000 participants came out to celebrate with us at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, September 24th. Participants and sponsors helped to turn in over $98,000 on Walk day, bringing our Walk total to $647,265 so far in support of our $916,000 goal. Many teams have fundraisers planned through the end of the year, so we’re excited to watch that total climb daily!
A highlight of the Walk was the Community Resource Fair, which featured 55 local autism-related service providers. Children’s entertainment activities filled all corners of the ballpark, and included inflatables, crafts, and face painting. The Philly Phanatic and other fun mascots, Storm Troopers, the Philadelphia Ghost Busters, dance troupes, cheerleading squads, beauty queens, and talented a capella groups entertained along the Walk route. Wawa set up shop with a team of employees to serve snacks, drinks, and coffee to everyone’s delight. Frito Lay and Bachman also helped to fuel walkers.
Kathy Orr of CBS 3/CW Philly 57 emceed the stage show, along with Joe Mama from 98.1 WOGL. The program included a host dedicated community leaders: Nina Wall-Cote, Director of the PA Bureau for Autism Services, Pennsylvania State Representative Denny O’Brien, Bob Weinhold, CEO of Foundations Behavioral Health, Senator Joseph Rocks of NHS Human Services, U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan, and Dr. Craig Newschaffer of Drexel University and the EARLI Study. Autism Speaks’ own Cathy Kanefsky, Vice President of Field and Chapter Development and Peter Bell, Executive Vice President of Programs and Services, joined us as national leaders and top-fundraising team captains. Walk Co-Chairs Stacey Fliegelman, Cynthia Day, Kelly Emsley, and Jeff Kobasa represented the entire committee and invited the group on stage to kick off the walk – a true Philadelphia tradition!
Thank you to our generous sponsors including Toys“R”Us, Babies“R”Us, NHS Human Services, Foundations Behavioral Health, Cigna, Drexel University’s School of Public Health and the EARLI Study and the College of Medicine, Dermody Properties and Penn Jersey Paper, Frankel & Kershenbaum, Devereux Pennsylvania, Cozen O’Connor, the Strauss Foundation, Holman Automotive, LoJack SafetyNet, Pennsylvania Trust, and K-12. And thanks to our media sponsors for helping to spread the word through their outlets: CBS 3/CW Philly 57, KYW Newsradio 1060, 98.1 WOGL, 1210 WPHT, and 94 WIP.
And last, but certainly not least, we were joined by hundreds of talented volunteers that helped to make the Philadelphia Walk safe and fun for everyone!
For more information about the Walk, visit our website at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/philadelphia.