The Tampa Walk Now for Autism Speaks held its 8th Annual Event on April 20 at Raymond James Stadium and is expected to raise more than $310,000! An amazing crowd of nearly 8,000 families and friends joined together to celebrate this incredible day for fundraising and awareness.
The Resource Fair provided fun and games for the kids and great information about community resources for parents and friends. More than 30 vendors attended this signature program of returning and new participants. A special display and activity by Art for Autism joined us for the first time with a great display and participatory activities. Kids Activities Area entertained with games, balloons, face painting and so much more! The Tampa Bay Rays were out with their inflatable ball toss and information on Autism Speaks Night at the Tampa Bay Rays on May 11. Tickets for this game can be purchased by going to WWW.RAYSBASEBALL.COM/AUTISMSPEAKS and using the password: AUTISMSPEAKS
Other family activities included corn-hole toss, our Autism Speaks tattoos station and other fun activities. Geoffrey, our great friend from Toys “R” Us and members of the 501st Star Wars group were around to shake hands and join in photo opportunities with countless Walk teams.
Team Village hosted Walk teams who each raised more than $1500. The Grand Club hosted individuals who each raised $1000 and more. In total, nearly 400 friends and family members represented more than 30 teams and 40 Grand Club recipients. Team Village guests were invited to enjoy yummy snacks catered by Joe’s Crab Shack! Mama Razzi photography was on hand for Team photos and photos of the morning of Walk Day activities.
On Main Stage, John Hotchkiss, served as emcee for the Walk's opening ceremonies while Tampa’s Mobile DJ entertained throughout the day with help from Omar Santiago and Stephanie Slagel! This year’s key food sponsors included Dunkin’ Donuts with gallons of their great coffee and dozens of bagels and doughnuts. Our great friends at Pepsi kept 8,000 walkers well-hydrated! We can’t wait until next year!
We were honored on Walk Day to welcome Rachel’s Dream Team and the family of Rachel D’Avino, a Behavioral Therapist at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School who lost her life while attempting to save the lives of her students. In honor of Rachel and her students we presented her team with their own Team Walk sign.
The Walk went off without a hitch thanks to our many volunteers. A special ‘Shout out’ of thanks to McDill AFB service men, women and families combined with our awesome Alpha Xi Delta Alumni Association and community volunteers who in total provided us with more than 125 day of event volunteers
Our warmest thanks to this year's Gold Sponsors Aggressive Law Group and Mercedes-Benz of Tampa, Media Sponsor WTTA-TV and key venue support, Sun Belt Rental.
Finally, thanks goes out to those dedicated volunteers, our outstanding 2013 Tampa Walk Committee, for a memorable event and in recognition of their tireless work. Our 2013 Walk Co-Chairman Julie Reyes and Dion Stoltzfoos; Registration, Fran Weissing; Team Village, Dominic Marks; Entertainment, Crystal Lagor; Resource Fair, Jennifer Zimmer; Parking, Crowd Control, and Security, DJ Reyes; Grand Club, Hilary Roberts; Media, Kate Martin and Pepsi Refreshments, Nakia Smith; Volunteers and Logistics Coordination, Siobhan Williamson; Water and Clean up, Mathias Mackeprang; and a special Thanks to Temple Terrace firefighter Brendan Patersen, The Fishers, Mr. Stoltzfoos (Dion's Dad!) and so many more folks without their help and support the event would not have been possible.
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.