3,000 members of the Western New England Community joined Autism Speaks for its 10th Annual Western New England Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. The walk took place on Saturaday, September 29th at the beautiful Stanley Park in Westfield, MA. Despite over cast skies and the threat of showers, teams came prepared to spend the day-bringing pop-up tents & team signs-creating team spirit that could be felt throughout the park. In the end, Western New England families helped raise close to $125,000 ($25,000 over goal) for Autism Speaks and there are other fall events that will continue the fundraising through the end of the year.
The day began with an amazing performance by the band TJ &The Peepers, who knew how to get a crowd excited to Walk! The community resource fair included close to a dozen local resource providers, and an inflatable slide, Hamster Balls, Laser Tag, a video game truck & a carnival game tent added excitement to the walk and kept the kids zone area buzzing. A special appearance by Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys R Us was also a huge hit with the kids!
Elysia Rodriguez, from our TV Media Partner WWLP CH 22, kicked off our opening ceremonies and thanked all of our families for sharing their Saturday with us. The opening ceremonies featured brief speeches from our 2012 Co-Chairs George Rosa and Kristi DeGrandpre who thanked the crowd for their support and asked the committee to come up to the stage—to a round of applause from the crowd who expressed great appreciation for their hard work to make this day happen. In addition, the 2012 Community Partner Award was given to UMASS-Amherst Chapters of Alpha Epsilon Pi & Sigma delta Tau Sorority for their incredible efforts of raising awareness & money through their annual Autism Speaks U UMass 5K Run/3K Walk!
The top 10 fundraising teams took part in the opening ceremonies and were given the honor of counting down the Walk start. Jesse James & the Outlaw Walkers were the highest fundraising team and were given the honor of cutting the ribbon. As always, Geoffrey the Giraffe, from our national sponsor Toys R Us was on hand to lead the walkers at the start line.
Thank you to the 2012 sponsors including Toys R Us & Babies R Us, WWLP CH 22, Turley Publications, the Boston Red Sox, SERVPRO of Hampshire County, Balise Motor Group, HP Hood, Hillside Pizza, Walgreens, Panera Bread & Hannoush Jewelers.
Also, a special thank you to all of the volunteers that helped keep this Walk safe and fun for everyone—including Alpha Xi Delta-WPI and Alpha Epsilon Pi-UMass-Amherst! We cannot list all of our volunteer groups here, but we thank you all for your hard work!
A big thank you to our Walk Committee and volunteers! For more pictures and information about the Walk, please continue to visit the Walk website www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/wne
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.