The weather couldn’t have been better to celebrate the 2016 Autism Speaks Miami Walk, sponsored by Alpha Xi Delta, at Doral Central Park on Sunday, April 10th. It was the most successful Walk to date with over 26,000 walkers and raised over $700,000 and counting. Our success would have not been possible without the leadership of Walk Co-Chairs Arturo Osorio and Joe Balerdi and the dedication and tireless effort of the 2016 Miami Walk Committee and weekend volunteers. 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 home these last six years.
Participants were welcomed by event emcees Nathalie Rodriguez of I Heart Media’s 93.9MIA and Maria Fernanda Lopez of Univision 23. City of Doral Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, this year’s Autism Speaks Walk champion, along with Youth Ambassador Nelson Alexander Sobrino led the Autism Speaks Miami Walk in a 2016 white convertible Ford Mustang, joined by over 26,000 participants who celebrated the highly-anticipated event. The Miami Walk included a sold-out Resource Fair with over 36 autism service providers. Activities for families included entertainment like Miami-Dade Fire Rescue interactive trucks, mascots and giveaways from the Florida Panthers, Miami Marlins, and Miami Dolphins. Walkers enjoyed several special activities on the walk route, from the Mercantil Commercebank Start Line with energy-pumped dancing by the Miami Marlins street team, to Hialeah Gardens’ and MFB Marching Bands’ performances before arriving at the Finish Line to music and FIU’s Alpha Xi Delta sorority cheering. After the Walk, participants enjoyed a lively entertainment program showcasing many performances by children and adults on the spectrum.
Grand Club members, sponsors, and elected officials enjoyed delicious breakfast pastries and other snacks at the VIP Tent, catered by Sedano’s Supermarkets. Walkers enjoyed a variety of food and giveaways at the Sedano’s Supermarkets’ sponsored Food Village.
If that wasn’t enough GameStop attended for their first time at the Miami Walk to interact with our families and have a booth set up at the event. They raised $1,911 during their pre-walk fundraising, had 54 pre-registered & another 25 who showed up on the actual day of the walk. The GameStop Brand Family didn’t stop there as many of the attendees dressed up anime characters and a bigger than life Mario costume. For the games out there they also hosted with the help of Sony an ultimate gaming lounge with Street Fighter V, Just Dance and MLB 2016 next to the sensory tend so kids could relax in the shade.
Many thanks also to our Walk Emcees, Nathalie Rodriguez and Maria Fernanda Lopez, 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, Walk Co-Chair Joe Balerdi, Top Team captains Pedro Mesa of Sedano's Supermarkets, State Senator Anitere Flores, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade Public Schools School Board Member Lubby Navarro, Lea Padron of the Office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Reimy Benitez of the Office of U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and all other elected officials and media present.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to our wonderful Corporate Sponsors who made this Walk possible. Our Visionary Sponsor South Florida Ford; other major sponsors include Sedano's Supermarkets, our Host Sponsor - City of Doral, IMUSA, Publix Super Markets, NewStar, Greenberg Traurig, MasTec, BDO, Mercantil Commercebank, Cindy & Mike Moran, Patricia & Robert Cambo, Topp Solutions, National Resource Fair Sponsor - Butterfly Effects, DHL, FPL, Baptist Health South Florida, TD Bank, SunTrust, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Beckman Coulter Foundation, Topp Solutions, FirstBank Florida, LIME Communications, Macy’s, Vivint, The Whitehurst Group, LAAD, Adonel Concrete, PDQ, Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Ryder, Citrus Health Network, Coconut Grove Bank, Perry Ellis International, UM CARD & Navarro Discount Pharmacies.
In addition, the Walk was featured on Univision 23, Telemundo 51, Univision Radio, Miami Community Newspapers, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and many others. Big thanks to our Media Partners Rand Marketing, MIAMIGO and Porter Novelli.
Most of all we thank our families for coming out to support Autism Speaks Miami Walk! Through your fundraising efforts and outreach we were able to raise over $700,000 dollars and still counting for our families here in Miami. Please continue to raise monies through June 1st and send your donations to the Miami Office so we can have a record-setting year! (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 #AutismSpeaksMiami and #Ford4Autism on social media.