NAAR's Spring Walk season comes to a victorious end this weekend, as we prepare for our final three Walk F.A.R. for NAAR events of the spring. The Spring's final events are the Greater Delaware Valley Walk in Pennsauken, NJ; our Iowa Walk in Des Moines and NAAR's inaugural Chicago Walk at Soldier's Field.
To date, NAAR's 2004 Spring events have attracted more than 15,000 walkers and raised more than $1.8 million for research - and these numbers that will increase after this weekend's Walk events!
Our 2004 Spring Walk season opened on Saturday, April 3 with the second annual Cumberland/Tri-State Walk F.A.R. for NAAR, which attracted 750 people and raised $50,000. The event was again held at Allegany College of Maryland. Despite gloomy weather, more people and more money were raised over last year's event. Congratulations to Walk Chairs Marcy and Steve Hardinger and their entire committee for doing a tremendous job!
NAAR's second Atlanta Walk F.A.R. for NAAR was held Sat., May 1, attracting 500 people to Piedmont Park and raising $50,000. Many thanks go out to Walk Chairs Erica and Glenn Fletcher and the entire Atlanta committee. Teams really outdid themselves with fundraising - especially Team Teddy, Team Isaiah and The Marcus Institute. The "Children's Village" was filled with happy kids - along with moonwalks, face painting, games and clowns. You may remember that Atlanta had another Walk this Fall - so the total raised for Atlanta this year is $70,000+.
Past chairs Lori Crow and Dawn Fletcher were on hand as well and recognized for their efforts to get NAAR off the ground in Atlanta.
One of NAAR's most successful events, the National Capital Area Walk, was held Saturday, May 8 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Over 5,000 people joined us for our third area walk to benefit NAAR, which raised nearly $500,000. On this glorious day, our walkers joined honorary chair Gary Williams, coach of the University of Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team, who led the pack. Coach Williams signed hundreds of autographs while 94.7 FM Classic Rock morning deejay Mark Kessler manned the microphones on the beautiful BET soundstage. Congratulations to Walk Chairs Wayne Brown and Dede Colevas Brown and the entire National Capital Area Committee for their excellent efforts!
Five Walks were held during the weekend of June 5 and 6, attracting walkers at events from coast to coast - from San Diego and Seattle to Charlotte, Westchester/Fairfield (including the Bronx Satellite Walk) and Pittsburgh.
The Inaugural Walk in San Diego took place under sunny skies on Saturday, June 5 at Qualcomm Stadium. Over 1,500 people - 80 teams strong - walked. Congratulations and thank you to Walk Chairs David and Katrina DeRoche, and their entire committee. A special thanks also goes out to Dr. Aubyn Stahmer who helped put together a complete autism resource area - it is truly with the support of these providers that the autism community learned about this event. They say that walk day is the 'first day of recruitment for next year," so these 1,500 will certainly be back next year with their friends and families - the hoopla was abundant. Home Depot came out with kids crafts. Other attractions included "Reptile man," who had turtles and a huge boa constrictor; the quiet area, which had coloring and legos; Papa John's had pizza for everyone; and the tumble therapy group had a tumble area for the kids and handled the warm-up for the crowd. Katrina was featured on two morning television news programs promoting the walk. U.S. Representative Susan Davis, a member of the Autism Caucus, was also on hand for the opening ceremonies, as was former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, the new head football coach of the University of San Diego. Jim served as Honorary Chair of the San Diego Walk. With walk day donations, San Diego's inaugural event raised over $150,000 and counting for NAAR.
In Charlotte, NC, the Second Annual Carolina's Walk F.A.R. for NAAR was a great success. Walk Chairs Tim and Karla Newman did it again!!! Not only were they able to schedule the Walk on June 5 - a perfect sunny day - but also raised $100,000!! The crowd of 500 enjoyed the Walk around Panther Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, as well as the Bojangles food, bounce houses and Walk tattoos. This walk had two presenting sponsors - Bank of America and Hearst Corporation. Great job to all!!
Westchester/Fairfield and the Bronx didn't fare well with the weather gods on Sunday, June 6 - but it didn't deter enthusiasm and filled (but soggy) pledge envelopes. Approximately 4,000 people came out to Manhattanville College for a wonderful event, despite the rain. Congratulations to Walk Co-Chairs Linda Talbert, David Gortz and Robin Morris and the entire Westchester/Fairfield committee. The Satellite Walk at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx was equally successful. This walk site, led by Joe Orlando, Jacobi Hospital CEO, and his staff as well as parent-leader and NAAR volunteer, Jesse Mojica, attracted nearly 500 walkers. NAAR trustee Marty Schwartzman was on hand and noted, "I am proud to report that I witnessed and was part of a great day in NAAR's history as the first Bronx walk took place under the capable hands of Jesse Mojica. It was an amazing day as it surpassed anything I could imagine. The enthusiasm for NAAR at this event was equal to the highest that I have ever seen. Jacobi Hospital and its employees opened their hearts to NAAR and it was a very moving experience. I am aware of approximately $75,000 that was raised on site and I am sure the number will be more as it is all accounted for. They are already talking about a bigger walk next year."
Between the Manhattanville site and the Bronx Walk, over $575,000 was raised. Kudos to all.
Somehow the rain did not fall on the Third Annual Seattle Walk held June 6 at Marymoor Park (though it was a close call!) Approximately 1,500 walkers came out to support NAAR. It was wonderful to see this year's committee, led by Terry Pressman, as well as all of the previous Seattle walk leaders from the past two years. The walk was just great! Special thanks to 2003 co-chairs Rijad Karmey Jones and Lorie Thomas who provided 3 bounce houses and other games for the kids - which were very popular. COSTCO provided all of the food again and many members of the University of Washington Huskies were on hand to sign autographs. Some of you saw the 20/20 story a few weeks ago which featured Melissa Garrison and her brother with autism - and very briefly showed her Walk FAR for NAAR justgiving.com site. I'm happy to report that Melissa is meeting her goal of $10,000! Total dollars raised to date for today's Seattle event are over $235,000 with more coming.
Last, but not least, Pittsburgh's FIFTH annual walk was held this June 6 at Heinz Field. Approximately 6,000 people participated on a beautiful day - raising over $375,000 to date. With post-walk donations this group is certain to exceed the $400,000 mark. In five years, Pittsburgh has raised approximately $1.7 million for NAAR! Thanks to Walk Chairs Elaine Carfagna and Patti McCloud. There is already talk about a potential spin-off walk in 2005.
As there is little rest for the weary - we have three more events planned for this Spring as we Walk in the Greater Delaware Valley, Des Moines and Chicago. Good luck to all of our extraordinary volunteers coordinating these events!