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The Chicagoland Chapter Walk Kickoff Hits a Homerun!


On Sunday, March 8th close to 200 guests gathered together at US Cellular Field, Home of the Chicago White Sox, for the Chicagoland Chapter Walk Kickoff to prepare for the Chapter’s North Shore (May 4) and Chicago (May 16) Walks.

For the first time ever, the Team Captains from both the North Shore and Chicago Walks met at one large Kickoff Party. The event was held in the famed Magellan Scout Lounge and Learning and Conference Center—right where the White Sox players hold their post-game press conferences. Team Captains and their families were treated to a buffet of fun ballpark foods: Hot dogs, beer cheese, popcorn, soft pretzels, and to top it all off, a complete ice cream bar! The children enjoyed a kid’s corner during the program that had play dough, coloring books, and toys—not a bad Sunday for the younger attendees. Guests were able to talk with fellow volunteer experts as part of “Expo Row” and learn about successful ways to recruit team members and fundraise toward their goals. Hollywood legend, Ed Asner, stopped in to take photos and autograph items for the kickoff goers and Kye Martin from NBC5 was gracious enough to emcee the program. There was a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy and kicked off walk season in style.

The theme of this year’s kickoff was Community. Kye Martin kicked off the program, welcoming everyone to the 2015 kickoff. Laurie Chern, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Chicagoland Chapter gave a quick recap of the 2014 chapter events and encouraged everyone to get involved year-round. Stuart Savitz, National Board Member and Co-Chair of the North Shore Walk spoke about the 10 years of progress for Autism Speaks, giving valuable insight to the attendees on the organization’s mission. Katrina Meckes, Walk Director for the Chicago and North Shore Walks introduced the Autism Speaks Staff to help put and face to the names for the walkers. To top it all off, Chicago Walk Co-Chairs Jeff (also a Chicago Board Member) and Ashling Smidt shared their personal stories, gave away door prizes, and riled the crowd up, driving the message home to 1) Register 2) Set Goals and 3) Fundraise! Combined, the two Chicagoland Area Walks are set to raise $1.5 million dollars this year and our teams are ready to hit goal.

The Chicago Team looks forward to a full season ahead! Autism Awareness Day, Zoo’s Go Blue, Illuminate, Double Denim Bar Crawl, Autism Awareness Day at Wrigley Field, and of course, the Walks!

Click here to learn more about upcoming events.  

Haven’t registered yet? We encourage you to join us! Here are the dates of the two upcoming Walks:

North Shore Walk

  • Sunday, May 3
  • New Trier High School, Northfield Campus — 7 Happ Road, Northfield, IL
  • 8AM Registration — 9AM Walk Start


Chicago Walk

  • Saturday, May 16
  • Soldier Field — 1410 S. Museum Campus, Chicago, IL
  • 8AM Registration — 10:30AM Walk Start


Any questions? Please reach out to the Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks at or 224-567-8573.


The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.