The Tampa Walk Now for Autism Speaks held its 9th Annual Event on April 26 at Raymond James Stadium and has raised more than $266,000 toward our goal of $310,000! There were over 330 teams and more than 3,000 walkers registered online! An amazing crowd of nearly 8,000 families and friends joined together to celebrate this incredible day for fundraising and awareness.
There were appearances from the Star Wars Storm Troopers, the Tampa Bay Rays Mascot “Raymond”, and other special guests. Children enjoyed inflatables, face painting, frozen treats, and many fun-filled Kid’s Activities sponsored by Engage Behavioral Health. Parents were able to find great community resources and information at The Resource Fair sponsored by Butterfly Effects ABA Therapy. More than 40 vendors attended this signature program of returning and new participants. The Tampa Bay Rays were out with their inflatable ball toss and information on Autism Speaks Night with the Tampa Bay Rays on June 7 at Tropicana Field. Tickets for this game can be purchased by going to WWW.RAYSBASEBALL.COM/AUTISMSPEAKS and using the password: SPEAK2.
Team Village hosted Walk teams who each raised more than $2000. The Grand Club hosted individuals who each raised $1000 and more. In total, nearly 400 friends and family members represented more than 30 teams and 35 Grand Club recipients. Sponsored by Early Autism Project, Team Village and Grand Club teams earned special access to a tent where they could relax, enjoy food catered by Joe’s Crab Shack, enter special giveaways, and receive their personalized Team Sign.
On Main Stage, Jenn Holloway from Great 38 and John Hotchkiss, served as emcee for the Walk's opening ceremonies and entertained throughout the day with help from Omar Santiago, Stephanie Slagel, Sam Ashe Dancers, Soul Sliders of Tampa Bay, and TPACKids! This year’s key food sponsors included Dunkin’ Donuts with gallons of their great coffee and dozens of bagels and doughnuts. Our great friends at Pepsi kept 8,000 walkers well-hydrated! We can’t wait until next year!
We were honored to welcome Rachel Canning from Team Anchored for Autism. We honored Rachel as our Hometown Hero for turning a case of mistaken identity into an opportunity to promote autism awareness. We presented Rachel with an award and a personalized Team Walk sign.
The Walk went off without a hitch thanks to our many volunteers. A special ‘Shout out’ of thanks to MacDill AFB, Alpha Xi Delta Alumni Association, SunTrust Bank, and community volunteers who in total provided us with more than 125 day of event volunteers.
Our warmest thanks to this year's Gold Sponsors Tampa Bay Rays and Winters and Yonker Law Firm, Media Sponsor Great 38 and key venue support, Sun Belt Rental.
Finally, thanks goes out to those dedicated volunteers, our outstanding 2014 Tampa Walk Committee, for a memorable event and in recognition of their tireless work. Our 2014 Walk Co-Chairmen Julie Reyes, Dion Stoltzfoos, and Kate Martin; Registration, Fran Weissing; Entertainment, Lourdes Quinones, Mattie Mingst Resource Fair, Eileen Lyons; Parking, Crowd Control, and Security, DJ Reyes; Volunteers and Logistics Coordination, Siobhan Williamson; Team Development, Justin Phelps; School Teams, Michelle Maulsby; and a special Thanks to Adam Waugh, Rich Tumicki, George Stoltzfoos (Dion's Dad!) and so many more folks without their help and support the event would not have been possible.