A record-setting 20,000 walkers - including individuals with autism, their families and friends - joined together at Tempe Beach Park on Sunday, Oct. 27 for the annual Arizona Walk Now for Autism Speaks, resulting in over $1.5 million in donations and increased awareness for the disorder.
The walk is part of Autism Speaks' national walk program that includes more than 90 events in North America each year. In Arizona, Autism Speaks partners with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and proceeds raised benefit both organizations. "This year's level of enthusiasm and giving surpassed all of our expectations," says Daniel Openden, president and CEO of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). "Together, with Autism Speaks, we give one strong voice to autism in our community; and the amount of support from our event sponsors, 400 volunteers and the more than 500 walk teams that participated this year is a testament to our community's passion for helping kids with autism."
The Arizona walk's Visionary Sponsor Sprouts Farmers Market raised a record-setting $1.15 million for the walk through an industry-wide vendor outreach effort. "This success of Sprouts' awareness and fundraising efforts to help support the walk belongs to our employees and vendor partners," says Sprouts President & CEO Doug Sanders. This is the fourth year Sprouts has served as the event's Visionary Sponsor.
Valley Honda Dealers' Helpful Guys in Blue were also at the walk with a volunteer team to assist and greet walkers with complimentary sunscreen, provide race directions along the route, and lend a hand at the finish line and in the kids' zone. For the second year, Valley Honda Dealers served as the walk's official Start/Finish Line Sponsor and secured a Honda vehicle to serve as the event's official pace car.
The Arizona walk, which is free to attend, also featured more than 50 autism resource organizations, providing families with a one-stop-shop for information about autism; a kids' activity zone; and live music and entertainment.
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.