The ninth annual Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks was held on Saturday, May 12th at Soldier Field, welcoming more than 15,000 participants and 550 volunteers--despite ominous skies. The skies opened up and rain fell prior to the Walk, delaying registration. But, participants didn’t let a little rain keep them away! Walkers rode out the storm, visiting resource providers inside Soldier Field. The rain passed, just in time for Opening Ceremonies. Walkers enjoyed bounce houses and entertainment from the main stage inside Soldier Field.
Autism Speaks’ executive vice president of programs and services, Peter Bell, was on hand to welcome the crowd. Walk co-chair, Tricia Brouwers, joined Peter from the stage to give special thanks to his mom, Jane Bell Scott. Since 2004, Jane has raised more than $350,000 in support of Autism Speaks, in honor of her grandson, Tyler.
Geoffrey the Giraffe from national sponsor, Toys”R”Us joined in the fun along with our great friends from the 501st Midwest Garrison--Star Wars characters. Our families always look forward to photo ops with these special guests.
Local recording artist, Andrew Salgado wooed the crowd with Green Thirteen and paved the way for the Take A Bow ladies, and our newest talent, Glenbrook North Express, staring Jordy Shulman, who sang the National Anthem in honor of his cousin who has Aspergers. Local favorite NBC5 Chicago weatherman, Andy Avalos again served as our event emcee, and much-needed weather advisor.
Very special thanks to generous sponsors: Fifth Third Bank, Bulley & Andrews, CME Group, Chicago Trading Company, Motorola Mobility Foundation, McDermott Will & Emery, Chopper Trading, CBOE, Invesco, Navistar, Up Foundation, CDW, Best Buy, ABN AMRO, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wolverine Execution Services, Illinois Lottery, American Family Insurance, IMC Financial Markets, White Castle, Mesirow Financial, C N A Foundation, Quest Diagnostics, Camelot Therapeutic Day Schools, Alpha Xi Delta, Nortown Auto and MB Financial Bank.
To date, the 2012 Chicago Walk has raised more than $1.35 million toward the $1.7 million fundraising goal. With many more fundraising events scheduled in the months to come, the goal is well within reach. We thank our outgoing Walk chairs, Tricia and Jon Brouwers for all of their hard work, committee leadership and tremendous contributions over the years, and welcome the incoming leadership of Jody & Deb Gaunt, who will serve as 2013 Walk co-chairs. Congratulations to Jon, Tricia, Jody, Deb and the entire 2012 Chicago Walk committee on another job well done!
For more photos and information about Chicago activities, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AutismSpeaks.Chicagoland.