On Sunday, April 19, Miami celebrated the 2015 Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Doral Central Park, in the City of Doral. It was the most successful Walk to date with over 30,000 walkers and raised over $700,000 and counting. Our success would have not been possible without the leadership of Walk Chair Arturo Osorio and the dedication and tireless effort of the 2015 Miami Walk Committee. It was a day full of fun and entertainment with an atmosphere of excitement! Donate to the walk here.
Participants were welcomed by event emcees Mariana Rodriguez and Abel Hernandez of Telemundo 51's Acceso Total. Highlights during the Opening Ceremonies included presentation of the key to the City of Doral by Mayor Luigi Boria and Council to Jamitha Fields, National Vice President of Community Relations for Autism Speaks, a special birthday cake presentation by Univision 23's Sandra Peebles and Angela Ramos to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Autism Speaks, as well as a recorded message to our Co-Founders and families by US Senator Marco Rubio.
TD the Miami Dolphin alongside Mission Ambassador Cristina Lopez, her son Mathew, Youth Ambassador Alonso Velazquez and his sister Nancy lead the Miami Walk Now for Autism Speaks in a white convertible Ford Mustang, joined by over 30,000 attendees who celebrated the highly-anticipated event. The Miami Walk included over 34 service providers and fun-filled children’s entertainment like bounces houses. Teams enjoyed several special activities on the walk route: from the Mercantil Commercebank Start Line’s energy-pumped dancing by the Miami Marlins street team, to Hialeah Gardens’ Marching Band performances before arriving at the Finish Line to music, Team Roll Call, and FIU’s Alpha Xi Delta sorority cheering. The Walk featured heartwarming moments with a speech about Autism Speaks by self-advocate Alonso Velazquez, the National Anthem performed by Nanette Molina with presentation of the American flag by Homestead Sr. High Junior ROTC. Nathalie Rodriguez of I Heart Media's My 93.9 emceed the entertainment program, which showcased many performances by children and adults on the spectrum, including Karen Peterson and Dancers Inc., Charles R. Hadley Jazz Rock Rhythm Ensemble, Foundart Academy, Be Unique Academy and Miami Dance Project, Highpoint Academy Cheerleaders, City of Doral Feel the Beat Dance Group, Highpoint Academy Hip Hop Dancers and The Wolfpack Band.
Grand Club members, sponsors, and elected officials enjoyed delicious media noche sliders, pastelitos and other snacks at the VIP Tent, catered by none other than Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine Restaurant. Walkers enjoyed a variety of food and giveaways at the Sedano’s Supermarkets’ sponsored Food Village, including Joe's Crab Shack, Nestle, Cafe Bustelo, Conchita Foods, Coca-Cola, and Dunkin Donuts.
A special thanks to Dessire Leon for getting over 22 celebrities to attend, including Angela Rincon, Boni & Kely, Carolina Laursen, Camilo Montoya, David Chocarro, Danielo Carrera, DZO, Karent Sierra, Dr. Maritza Fuentes, Isaac Reyes, Jessica Malvicino, Lenier Meza, Lorena Roque, Lucy Grau, Marta Gonzalez, Maricela Montecristo, Natasha Bolivar, Orlando Leon, Paula Zuleta, Rafael Otero, and Vivian Gonzalez.
In addition, the Walk was featured Univision 23, CBS4, WPLG Local 10, Telemundo 51, Miami Community Newspapers, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and many more. Big Thanks to our Media Partners - Univision 23, Univision Communications, Telemundo 51, CBS4, Univision Radio, I Heart Media, La Portada Magazine, The Miami Herald & El Nuevo Herald.
This great event would not have been possible without the support and dedication of our Walk committtee and who are the heart and soul of our walk – Arturo Osorio, Albert Lopez, Cary Lopez, Gaby Lopez, Lauren Lopez, Maria Zaldivar, Natalie Zaldivar, Danny Perez, Liliana Salazar, Angie Torres, Wilson Cristancho, Tom Mitchell, Barbara Hernandez, Sergeant Nancy Fernandez, Debbie Blanco, Zoila Cortes, Mercy Canas, Barbara Delgado, Larixa Tacher, Mark Glassman, Alex Amores, Leslie Veiga, Nury Soler, Hilda Mitrani, Elizabeth Fiallos, Rosa Albarado, Vanessa Martinez, Stephanie Seara, Julio Bello, Darlene Fernandez, Eglee Nunez, Steve Fagundo, Franklyn Roman, Tatiana Nicola, Johnny Calderin, and Jose Pelegri.
We would like to give a very special thank you to the City of Doral Council and Mayor Luigi Boria for embracing Autism Speaks. Many thanks also to our Walk Emcees, Mariana Rodriguez, Abel Hernandez, and Nathalie Rodriguez as well as our stage presenters – Chairman of South Florida Ford Dealers Al Young, Chairman of the South Florida Chapter Board of Autism Speaks Albert Lopez, Top Team captains Javier Herran and Pedro Mesa of Sedano's Supermarkets, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade Public Schools School Board Members Raquel Regalado, Susie Castillo and Luby Navarro, Lea Padron of the Office of US Senator Marco Rubio, and all elected officials, 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 Visionary Sponsor South Florida Ford; other sponsors include Brightstar Corp, Sedano's Supermarkets, Our Host Sponsor - City of Doral, Charles Schwab, Greenberg Traurig, MasTec, Publix Super Markets, BDO, IMUSA, LIME Communications, Assurant, FedEx, Mercantil Commercebank, Cindy & Mike Moran, Patricia & Robert Cambo, National Resource Fair Sponsor - Butterfly Effects, DHL, FPL, Baptist Health South Florida, TD Bank, SunTrust, Ryder, Florida National University, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Beckman Coulter Foundation, Topp Solutions, La Colonia, Tate Enterprises, Raymond James, SEFANN, LAAD, Nory's Home Services, FirstBank Florida, NY Life Insurance, Perry Ellis International & Navarro Discount Pharmacies.
Most of all we thank our families for coming out to support Walk Now for Autism Speaks! Through your efforts by fundraising and reaching out we were able to raise over $700,000 dollars and still counting for our families here in Miami. Please continue to raise monies and send your donations to the Miami Office. (link to our address, 5805 blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 170, Miami, FL 33126)
For more pictures and information about the Walk, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/autismspeaks.miami, and post your own pictures with #WalkNowMiami and #Ford4Autism on social media.