Long Island Walk Raises Over $1 Million

New England Chapter Also Hits Million Dollar Mark as 2003 Walks Generate $6 Million for Biomedical Research

To the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR), Long Island looks like a million bucks.

The Long Island Walk F.A.R. for NAAR autism research walk, held on Oct. 26, is the country's first single-day autism walk event to raise $1 million and one of three walk events held last weekend that capped the 2003 walk season. NAAR's Southwest Florida Walk, held Oct. 25, and Miami/Dade Walk, held Oct. 26, were also part of the year's final Walk weekend. NAAR's 2003 fall walk events collectively attracted more than 41,000 walkers and raised over $4 million for biomedical research – an increase of approximately $1 million from last year's fall campaign.

NAAR's Spring and Fall Walk campaigns included a total of 24 events that raised an estimated $6 million for research in 2003.

“These extraordinary results illustrate the outstanding leadership and dedication of our volunteers, who bring Walk F.A.R. for NAAR to life,” said Glenn R. Tringali, NAAR's chief executive officer. “Our volunteers are among the most passionate and amazing people in the world. They are playing the lead role in our quest to accelerate the pace of research and find answers to this devastating disorder.”

This year's Long Island Walk, which attracted an estimated 10,000 walkers, was NAAR's largest single-day event to date, in terms of attendance and dollars raised. The event generated approximately $1.2 million for research.

Many thanks go out to the entire Long Island Walk Committee and 2003 co-chairs, Caryn Schwartzman and May Lynn Andresen. Special thanks also go out to Dr. Bernard Rosof, senior vice president of North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, who served as corporate chair and played an instrumental role in helping the North Shore team reach its goal of raising $100,000 for the 2003 Long Island Walk.

Long Island's successful Walk was one of many ground-breaking events held in 2003.

New Walks Added in '03

NAAR expanded Walk F.A.R. for NAAR with the addition of 10 new events this year, including Cumberland, MD, Carolina, Atlanta, Western New England, Southern New England, Northern New England, St. Louis, Denver, North Central New Jersey and Southwest Florida walk events.

The inaugural St. Louis Walk, chaired by Colleen Dolnick and Jamie Spies, raised $400,000 and was NAAR's largest first-year walk in 2003.

2003 Fall Campaign

This year's Fall Walk F.A.R. for NAAR campaign included events in Atlanta, Holyoke, MA, Buffalo, Greater Boston, Central New Jersey, Providence, RI, St. Louis, Denver, North Central New Jersey, Palm Beach/Broward, Northern New Jersey, Manchester, NH, Southwest Florida, Miami-Dade and Long Island.

Walk expansion efforts in New England and New Jersey resulted in eight walks that raised nearly $2 million alone in 2003.

NAAR's New England chapter, led by President Margie Pascetta and Vice Presidents Dolores Rezendes and Larry Cancro, transformed the New England Walk into four separate events that raised a total of $1.1 million in 2003.

New England's four Walks included the Western New England Walk, held Sept. 13 in Holyoke, MA; the Greater Boston Walk, held Sept. 20 in Brighton, MA; the Southern New England Walk, held Oct. 4 in Providence; and the Northern New England Walk, held Oct. 5 in Manchester, NH. 2003 Walk chairs for NAAR's New England events are: Western New England: Martie Murphy-Kane, Holly Santos and Lynn Dwyer; Greater Boston: Marcy Wenning & Lisa Kearney; Southern New England: Sammi Robertson; and Northern New England: Kim Drelick.

In New Jersey, walks in the Greater Delaware Valley (a Spring Walk), Central New Jersey, North Central New Jersey and Northern New Jersey collectively raised $850,000. Along with New England, New Jersey is NAAR's only other Walk market to currently host four Walk F.A.R. for NAAR events. 2003 Walk chairs for NAAR's New Jersey events are: Greater Delaware Valley: Todd & Debbie Schmidt and Frank & Nancy D'Amico; Central New Jersey: Jim Brady; North Central New Jersey: Laura Kuntz; and Northern New Jersey: Judah Zeigler & Debbie Schwartz.

In Florida, volunteers in 2003 held three separate events, including Palm Beach/Broward, Miami/Dade and Southwest Florida, that raised more than $560,000. Walk chairs for NAAR's 2003 Florida Walks are: Palm Beach/Broward: Grace Rodriguez, Julie Guzy & Diane Orr; Miami/Dade: Seth Gordon (chair); and Jack Patterson, Johana Deschapell & Loredes Miranda (co-chairs); and Southwest Florida: Sharon & Beth Boyd.

2003 Spring Campaign

NAAR's 2003 Spring Walk F.A.R. for NAAR campaign raised $2 million and included nine events held in Cumberland, MD, Charlotte, Rochester, the National Capital Area, Greater Delaware Valley, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Westchester, NY/Fairfield, CT, and Des Moines.

The Westchester/Fairfield Walk, chaired by Debbie Hilibrand, Debbie Marchese and Angela Ditrio, raised $530,000 and was the largest of NAAR's Spring Walks in 2003.

NAAR's National Capital Area Walk was the second largest Spring Walk in 2003. Ann Gibbons, Lennie Gladstone, Marlene McConnell and Randi Sidgmore chaired the event, which raised nearly $500,000.

In Pittsburgh, home of the first Walk F.A.R. for NAAR event, the Walk moved to a new and much larger home – Heinz Field. The event, which has grown steadily since its debut four years ago, raised $415,000 in 2003. This year's Walk was chaired by Jim Edgar and Jackie Kulich.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

In just its fourth year, Walk F.A.R. for NAAR has quickly developed into the nation's largest autism walk program and has attracted more than 150,000 people, raising $15.5 million at events throughout the country.

But we still have much work to do – as our fifth Walk season is just around the corner.

New Walks planned for 2004 across the country include Baltimore, Chicago and Dallas – just to name a few.

The best is yet to come!