On Sunday, April 7, Miami celebrated the 2013 Walk Now for Autism Speaks at JC Bermudez Park, in the City of Doral. It was the most successful Walk to date with over 26,000 walkers and we raised over $650,000 and counting.
Our success would have not been possible without the leadership and vision of Manny Gaunaurd, Walk Chair, the support of Felipe Basulto, Corporate Chair and the dedication and tireless effort of Wilson Cristancho, Logistics Chair.
It was a day full of fun and entertainment with an atmosphere of excitement.
Mr. and Mrs. Wright lead the Miami Walk Now for Autism Speaks in a blue convertible Ford Mustang, joined by over 25,000 attendees who celebrated the highly-anticipated event. The Miami Walk included over 30 service providers and fun-filled children’s entertainment like bounces houses, petting zoos, and musical performances on stage. The Walk featured heartwarming moments with two teenage boys on the spectrum, a speech about Autism Speaks by self-advocate Sam Gelfand and the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance performed by Daniel Vega. We were also honored to have Brian Patrick join us and be recognized at the Walk, after his 6,000+ mile journey on roller blades across America promoting autism awareness. The VIP tent was catered by none other than Las Vegas Restaurant, with Cuban coffee provided by Café La Llave and pastries generously donated by Versailles Cuban Restaurant.. Artist Cerj Lalonde donated his contemporary “Puzzle Piece” painting, currently on display at the South Florida office.
Walkers enjoyed a variety of food at the Sedano’s Supermarkets Food Village, including Nestle, Conchita Foods, Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza, Gyroville, Buffalo Wild Wings, Johnny Rockets, Joe’s Seafood Shack, Borden Dairy, Coca Cola, Costco, and Dunkin Donuts.
A special thanks to Desire Leon who’s expertise in media and public relations brought us over 50 celebrities including Adriana Catano, Alberto Salaberri, Alex Hernandez, Alexa Pomales, Andrea Linares, Ana Quincoces, Ana Maria Canseco, Arlena Amaro, Carol Laursen, Carolina Cardona, Carolina Ramirez, Carlos Arrechea, Claudinne Caro, Damaris Aguiar, Danilo Carrera, David Chocarro, Dr. Eddie Armas, Dr. Maritza Fuentes, Enrique Santos, Felipe Viel, Fernando Hidalgo, Gabriel Valenzuela, Gloria Ordaz, Guellermo Benites, Gustavo Leone, Ileana Garcia, Isaac Reyes, Ismael Cala, Ismael La Rosa, Jeannette Lehr, Jenny Padura, Jorge Consejo, Jose Luis Napoles, Joe Ferrero, Juan Rivera MD, Judith Gonzalez, Karent Sierra, Laura Garcia, Liannet Borrego, Maggie Jimenez, Maria T. Interiano, Mariana Rodriguez, Michelle Vargas, Orlando Leon, Osvaldo Rios, Sofia LaChapelle, Sandra Peebles, Simone Cavalletti, Stephanie Severino, and Tony Dandrades.
In addition, the Walk was featured in People Magazine, Telemundo, Univision 23, Telefutura, Mega TV, Radio Laz, Mundo Fox, CBS4, Channel 10, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and many more. Big Thanks to our Media Partners - CBS4, NBC6, WSVN 7, WPLG 10, Azteca, America TeVe, Cnn En Espanol, Mundo Fox, Mega Tv, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Univision 23, Telemundo 51, Univision Radio, Spanish Broadcasting System, Clear Channel, Radio Mambi, Power 96, Selecta Magazine, Eventus Magazine, Portada Magazine, MomsMiami.com
This great event would not have been possible without the support and dedication of our volunteers who are the heart and soul of our walk - Albert Lopez, Aleida Lanza, Amelia Rey, Aurelio Rey, Cary Caram, Cary Lopez, Christina Baguer, Christina Ericsson, Debbie Blanco, Desiree Ramirez-Leon, Estela Serrano, Evelyne Santiago, Felipe Basulto, Howard Goodi, Jorge Colona, Larixa Tacher, Lourdes Miranda, Manny Gaunaurd, Mariana Rodriguez, Maria Llanes, Maria Zaldivar, Mark Glassman, Maria Luisa Gonzalez, Natalie Zaldivar, Orlando Leon, Paul Jardon, Susana Tacoronte, Valeska Valencia, Wilson Cristancho, Larry Armenteros, Luis Zabaljauregui, Vanessa Martinez, and Adrian Arbide.
We would like to give a very special thank you to the City of Doral Council and Mayor Luigi Boria for embracing Autism Speaks and giving our Walk a welcome home. Many thanks also to our Walk Emcees, Orlando Leon and Enrique Santos, as well as our stage presenters – Chairman of South Florida Ford Dealers Al Young, President of IMUSA Manny Gaunaurd, Retail Market Manager of TD Bank Felipe Basulto, Co-Chairmen of the South Florida Chapter Board Albert Lopez and Jimmy Morales, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Nury Soler of the Office of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Florida Congressman Joe Garcia, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Diana Rodriguez of the City of Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and all media talent and celebrities present.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to our wonderful Corporate Sponsors who made this Walk possible by donating money and many of them also formed teams. Our National Sponsors are Toys R Us, Babies R Us. Our Visionary Sponsors are South Florida Ford, Sedano’s Supermarkets, and Cindy & Mike Moran. Other corporate sponsors include BDO, IMUSA USA, TD Bank, FPL, Johnny Rockets, Greenburg Traurig, Mastec, FedEx, SunTrust, Patty and Robert Cambo, Ralph and Michelle Cruz, TotalBank, Citrus Health Network, DHL, FirstBank Florida, FedEx, Buffalo Wild Wings, Baptist Health South Florida, Navarro Discount Pharmacy, CarMax Cares, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, UM-NSU CARD, Publix Super Markets.
Most of all we thank our families for coming out to support and Walk Now for Autism Speaks and that someone you love and care about! Through your efforts by fundraising and reaching out we were able to raise over $600,000 dollars for our families here in Miami-Dade County. For more pictures and information about the Walk, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/autismspeaks.miami
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.