The rain held off for a blustery day at Huntington Park for the fifth annual Columbus Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. Central Ohioans responded yet again as 20,000 strong raised over $980,000 for Autism Speaks and soon to cross the $1 million mark. The new venue allowed lots of new experiences for participants – bouncies from Jump Around, photo booth, crafts from The Home Depot and our friends at The Learning Spectrum, appearances from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and live music from The Reaganomics! Not to be outdone by the famous White Castle coffee station, snacks from Raisin Rack and Dairy Queen Ice Cream treats. Over 35 community organizations serving individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders in the resource fair. We can’t forget our friend Geoffrey from Toys”R”Us, the Heroes Alliance and of course the Star Wars Characters.
The Walk Route was a real treat this year with the OSU Athletic Band and Cheerleaders leading the start along with squads from DeSales, Hilliard, New Albany, Olentangy and Westerville Central. Along the route music therapists from Helping Hands Center and The Learning Spectrum and local bands Marc Andrew Project, Save the Farm and Waxy Monx entertained the troops. Once the walkers turned the corner back to Huntington Park, Woody, Stacie and Zuko from WCOL cheered them on to the finish along the warning track of the ballpark. The NBC4 crew was also on hand at the Walk start and finish greeting the walkers. Truly a fun day for all participants young and old!
Many thanks to our presenting sponsor White Castle whose puzzle piece campaign this summer contributed $520,000 one dollar at a time. The top 5 White Castle “fundraisers” were recognized during opening ceremonies on the field. Panera Bread presented a check from their puzzle piece shortbread cookie campaign in April. 31,702 cookies were consumed in 7 days raising $40,000! All of the media sponsors, NBC4, WCOL and Columbus Parent actively participated in the Walk and media coverage from all Columbus television stations followed the event. A huge THANK YOU to the Walk planning committee, corporate sponsors, team captains, grand club members, Walk participants and Walk Day volunteers – our success is because of YOUR efforts! To Walk Chairpersons, Kathy Borkowski and Jerod Smalley, your commitment and dedication made this event special for all families in attendance. Columbus ROCKS!