From left, Peter Bell, EVP for programs and services for Autism Speaks, Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, Rookie of the Year award winner Janice McGreevy, Glenn Tringali, EVP for finance and administration, and New Jersey Area Director Dina Scwab
The Inaugural Rookie of the Year Award for the new volunteer who provides the most outstanding service to the organization went this year to Janice McGreevy, Chair of the Inaugural New Jersey Shore Walk for Autism Research. The award was presented at a March 16 awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
In the summer of 2005, Janice McGreevy accepted the position of chairing the Inaugural New Jersey Shore Walk for Autism Research with no apprehensions and no time commitment questions asked. Her only experience with the Walks so far had been as a team captain at the 2005 Northern NJ Walk at Giants Stadium, where Janice was so moved by the power of the community coming together that she felt the need to recreate the experience closer to home – near the New Jersey shore.
At the time, McGreevey had two young children: Tiernan, 5, who has mild autism, and Madylin, who was almost 2 and typical so far. A few months after she accepted her new role as chair, she announced that she was going to have another baby. But that didn't change anything. In fact, not only did McGreevey continue steadfastly in her role as Walk chair, she also supported all of the other five New Jersey events by attending each one of their kickoffs and walks and single-handedly initiating a support system throughout the region. With McGreevey's brother serving in Iraq and her husband waiting to be deployed, this community would prove to be invaluable.
Baby Cole was born in July and attended his mom's walk in September, which was a huge success. The Inaugural New Jersey Shore Walk far exceeded its goal of $100,000 by bringing in $265,000, an incredible achievement for a first-time Walk! The awards reception, which was scheduled for January 18, 2007, unexpectedly fell on the eve of the day that McGreevey's husband, Kevin, would be leaving for the Middle East. Although it would be their last night together for five months, McGreevey, with her husband, nonetheless willingly shared it with the seventy other people who attended the reception, once again demonstrating her commitment to the cause.
Under her leadership, hundreds of New Jersey Shore families dealt with their challenges head on by raising funds for autism research and awareness, with the support of their family and friends. The committee that McGreevey helped to form last year is ready to roll, and new calls come in weekly from people who want to join. According to Dina Schwab, who presented McGreevey with the first-ever Autism Speaks Rookie of the Year Award, “Janice has no idea what an influence her energy and enthusiasm had on the people who met her through the walk.”