On Saturday, August 18, 2012 approximately 1000 people turned out at Jetties Beach for the sixth annual Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Enthusiastic walkers and teams raised over $340,000 in support of Autism Speaks’ awareness, research, and family services initiatives.
John Shea, creative director of the Theatre Work Shop of Nantucket, reprised his role as Walk day emcee and welcomed walkers to the sixth annual event. The Walk day festivities kicked off with music and performances from the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket and the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation youth group.
Participating in the Walk program this year were Michael Cozort, Nantucket Superintendent of Schools, Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts State Representative Tim Madden (D-Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket District), Autism Speaks Director of State Government Affairs, Judith Ursitti, Teamsters Local 25 President and autism advocate, Sean O’Brien, and President of Autism Speaks, Liz Feld.
Also speaking were Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright who updated the crowd on Autism Speaks’ five year outlook which includes reducing the age of diagnosis, providing supports over an individual’s lifetime, and funding the development of better treatment solutions to help those affected by autism today.
Following the Co-founders’ remarks, Senator John Kerry, Bill Tornovish, Erik Evens, Beth Wilkinson, along with the Walk Committee, the Nantucket Whalers, the Nantucket Fire Department and the Nantucket Police Department Teams, joined the Wrights for the Walk ribbon cutting.
The Wrights started the Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks back in 2007 to raise awareness in a place they call home for part of the year. Since its inception, the Walk has raised over $1.5 million.
Photos by Lisa Frey
During the week leading up to the Walk, the Wrights sat down with Plum TV’s Kate Brosnan and Suzanne Wright spoke with 97-7 ACK FM to alert watchers and listeners about the growing public health crisis of autism.
On July 29, Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Dr. Geri Dawson spoke with 228 to discuss her relationship with the organization and how they are helping to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. 228 is Nantucket's only live and local show, Channel 22 at 8AM, celebrating the people, place, spirit and intellect of the island.
In early August several pieces on autism research, the Autism Speaks Nantucket Resource Center, young adults with autism and a call to action to build a Nantucket group home for young adults on the spectrum appeared in the Inquirer and Mirror.
This year the whole town stepped up to shine a spotlight on autism once again when close to 100 Nantucket restaurants and businesses participated in Light It Up Blue on August 10. See pictures from the Light It Up Blue Nantucket initiative on Facebook.
In addition Don Allen Ford played host to the Autism Speaks NASCAR car #11 from Joe Gibbs Racing. For the second year, Bill Tornovish welcomed the hundreds of guests at Friday evening’s fundraiser for Autism Speaks. Guests were treated to live music, food, and nearly 50 antique and rare cars.
The Walk organizers would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Chairs Suzanne and Bob Wright, and Abby and Steve Perelman, Susan and Peter Karger, Robbie and Larry Putterman, Sydney Fee Barsanti, Susan and Bill Vareschi, and Seth and Angela Raynor, David Gregory and Beth Wilkinson, Stephen and Jill Karp, Vickie and David Smick, and Cranberry Cup Nantucket, The Inquirer and Mirror and Plum TV for their fabulous support.
Special thanks to Don Allen Auto Service, Inc. and the Nantucket restaurants and businesses who participated in Light It Up Blue!
Fundraising totals are “to-date” – teams are still raising money and the site is still accepting donations at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/nantucket. For information, please call (646) 843-6675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.