Posted by: Autism Speaks | May 1, 2012

Why I Walk and How I Raise Money for Autism Speaks

Written by Dagny Power, mom to Thomas and member of the “Libertyville District 70” team

My son Thomas is an amazing 11 year old kid who rocks on his electric guitar, has an amazing lightening-fast brain, is the kindest person I’ve ever met and has autism. 

The Autism Speaks Walk is something I became involved in through his school.  His special education teacher, social worker, classroom teachers, and speech pathologist started a team and asked me to join them. 

I was, and continue to be, so proud to Walk besides these educators who have helped Thomas and given him the early intervention he needed to thrive in a public school setting.

Not everyone has such a positive experience and my mission is to spread awareness and get kids the support they desperately need.

I fundraise primarily using Facebook.  My goal this year is $1500 and, as I type, I’ve raised $1385.  Throughout the year,  I share amazing inspirational videos or stories on my Facebook page.  This keeps our friends and family aware of the fact that this is a cause near and dear to us. Then, when I start fundraising on Facebook for Autism Speaks, many people who love and support us are happy to donate by using the link that goes directly to our Walk fundraising page.

In addition to using Facebook, our team has brainstormed some additional ideas including a teachers breakfast at Thomas’ school, ice cream sales after school, and we’ve had tremendous success selling puzzle pieces for a dollar that are hung in the hallway at his school. 

We are all looking forward to the Autism Speaks Walk in Chicago on May 12th! 

For more information about the Chicago Walk, visit our website at

Posted by: Autism Speaks | May 1, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks Recap

Saturday, April 21st  was the 10th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks held for the 8th year at The Rose Bowl in the City of Pasadena. It was a beautiful day, a little hotter than we had planned for, but everyone that attended was in high spirits! In fact, over 30,000 people were there to Walk and get information about Autism from over 130 Resources and Service Providers.

As we are the Entertainment Capital of the world we did not lack in Star Power who graciously donated their money and time to be at the Walk.

Huge thanks to Holly Robinson-Peete and her son RJ, Krysten Ritter, Beth Riesgraf, Gary Cole, The Cast from Days Of Our Lives, Team Braverman from Parenthood, Bradley Whitford, and the amazing Ed Asner.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to our wonderful Corporate Sponsors who made this Walk possible by donating money and  In-Kind many of them also formed teams.  They are 800LoanMart, Vons Foundation, Rothstein Kass, Ernst & Young, Ralphs, Autism Spectrum Therapies, State Farm Gwyn Petrick Office, Trumpett Behavioral, Premier Healthcare Services, Walgreens for donating over 18000 bottles of water, JACK FM, Variety Magazine and KABC7.

Most of all we thank  our families for coming out to support and Walk Now for Autism Speaks and that someone you love and care about!  Through your efforts by fundraising and reaching out we were able to raise over $1.6 million dollars for our families here in Southern California.

For more information and photos on the Walk, visit our Facebook page at

Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 26, 2012

2012 Hawaii Walk Now for Autism Speaks Recap

2,500 walkers joined us at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu on Saturday, April 21st for the 7th annual Hawaii Walk Now for Autism Speaks.  Walkers enjoyed a beautiful day in downtown Honolulu. To date, the Hawaii Walk Now for Autism Speaks event has raised over $66,000!

We would like to thank all of the service providers and our amazing sponsors that attended  that helped make this Walk possible. The Community Resource Fair featured many service providers focused on helping families affected by autism.

We are so grateful for all of the hard work of the Walk committee lead by Nygel Martin and Rhibecca Glanstein.   We also want to thank all the volunteers, families, and friends for supporting this Walk and helping to fund critical research for autism. This is truly a family event…in Hawaii welcome “ALL” as part of their extended family!

Aloha and Mahalo!         

For more information about the Walk, please visit our Facebook page at

Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 25, 2012

2012 Treasure Coast Walk Now for Autism Speaks

Almost 1,000 families and individuals joined Autism Speaks for its 4th annual Treasure Coast Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. The Walk took place on Saturday, April 21st at Riverside Park in Vero Beach, FL. With a cool breeze and welcomed sunny skies, families covered the park with tents, lawn chairs, strollers, blankets, and signs to raise autism awareness and celebrate their children. Together, the Treasure Coast Community helped raise nearly $45,000 for Autism Speaks to date, with more coming in every day!

Volunteers from all over Treasure Coast showed up bright and early Saturday morning to prepare for the coming festivities. The morning filled with family fun including a demonstration by the Vero Beach Karate Association as well as the incredible dancing skills of Palm Beach Gardens Fire Department!  Don with Laf-A-Lot Entertainment joined us as our DJ and emcee. We kicked off the Walk with local celebrity, Patricia Moody singing and signing the national anthem followed by Team Brody cutting the ribbon! Afterwards, the walkers enjoyed donated foods from Riverside Café, Brain Freeze, and Marco’s Pizza while enjoying the musical styling of the Indian River Charter High School Jazz Band.  There were also plenty of local entertainers donating their time for the day including Laf-A-Lot, Starlite Princess Parties, Faces by Jenna and Uncle John the magician and balloon artist.

The community resource fair represented community partners including the Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, the College Internship Program, New York Life Insurance Co., Legacy Behavior Solutions and Coastal behavior Analysis, LLC.

Thank you to the 2012 sponsors including South Florida Ford, George E. Warren Corporation, Ace Hardware of Vero Beach and Orchid Island, Norris & Company Real Estate, Jarrod Owen Premier Agents Group, Palm Island Plantation and Gould Cooksey Fennel, P.A.

A big thank you to our incredible Walk Chair, Steve Owen II, our amazing Walk Committee and outstanding volunteers! For more pictures and information about the Walk, please visit our Facebook page at

Posted by: smofadmin | April 24, 2012

2012 Lehigh Valley Walk Now for Autism Speaks

Team Macungie’s Mystery Train Gang’s Gina, Jason and Christian Fuhrman cut the ribbon to start the 2012 Walk

I walk for my son who has autism. I walk for my daughter who is typical. I walk for my immediate and extended family. I walk for generations to come.”  -Grape Jelly on Pizza, one of the Lehigh Valley Walk’s top teams (via Facebook)

On a glorious April day, thousands of walkers joined forces on Saturday, April 21 at the Lehigh Parkway in Allentown, PA for the 6th Annual Lehigh Valley Walk Now for Autism Speaks.  In our 6th year, the Lehigh Valley Walk has become a day for families to reunite with old friends and meet new friends, all joined in the common fight to raise awareness and funds for Autism Speaks.  We have raised over $405,000 to date, and are well on our way to reaching our 2012 goal of $575,000.

Founding Walk Chair Karen Barbarics shares a Walk Day moment with her son Jack, 6.

Walk Chair Nancy Miltenberger welcomed the crowd. Nancy’s twin grandsons, James and Thomas Garrou, are both on the autism spectrum.  Nancy was joined on stage by Mike Kelly and Steph Wells from the B104 Morning Show, our day’s emcees.  Bearman and Keith from WZZO and Bob Holder from AM 1470 The Fox were also on hand to greet the Walkers!  Special thanks to national sponsors Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us and Gold Sponsors Air Products, Josh Early Candies, and Lehigh Valley Acura, Honda, Hyundai.  Media sponsors Clear Channel Radio, 69News, The Morning Call and RCN provided excellent publicity!

Many thanks to the tireless Walk Committee who put in hours, days, weeks and months of work to ensure the Walk’s success. Please visit our Facebook page,, to post your team photos in our online community.

Donations are still being collected!  All donations received by the end of August will count toward your individual and team fundraising totals.  Donations may be made online or mailed to:

Autism Speaks/Donations
Attn: Lehigh Valley Walk
5455 Wilshire Boulevard, Ste 2250
Los Angeles, CA 90036-4272
**Please include a donation form including the following information: Lehigh Valley Walk, your name, your team name

THANK YOU LEHIGH VALLEY for an absolutely amazing 6th Annual Walk!

10,000 Walkers walked for Autism Speaks at Lehigh Parkway!

Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 24, 2012

2012 Cumberland Walk Now for Autism Speaks

On a beautiful, sunny day in Cumberland, Maryland, 1,000 people looped the track at Allegany College for the tenth annual Cumberland Tri-State Walk Now for Autism Speaks event on Saturday, April 14, 2012.  Walk Chairperson, Marcy Hardinger led the opening ceremonies with special thanks to all Walk participants who came far and wide to enjoy the festivities of the day and support the urgent mission of Autism Speaks. 

Walkers enjoyed the moon bounce, face painting, autism race car and balloons galore!  Radio sponsors WTBO and GO106FM were on hand to broadcast the events of the day.  Special thanks to Kirsten Dixon photography for the beautiful photos!

It was a true success for the Cumberland community with $50,000 in the bank!  In the past 10 years, Cumberland walkers raised over $600,000.  Truly amazing!!!!  This tremendous success is due to the hard work and dedication of each volunteer, walker, team member, team captain, sponsor and in-kind donor.  Many, many thanks to Walk planning committee for all of their efforts year after year to organize and implement the Walk in Western Maryland. 

A very sincere and heartfelt thank you to Marcy Hardinger.  Marcy’s passion to better the life of her daughter Hannah and all others affected by autism in the Cumberland community is truly inspiring.    

THANK YOU CUMBERLAND for your continued commitment to changing the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.  Autism Speaks and Cumberland is listening!!

For more information about the Walk, visit our website at

Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 18, 2012

2012 Greater Abilene Walk Now for Autism Speaks

Our 2012 Grand Club members!

The 8th annual Greater Abilene Walk Now for Autism Speaks was held Saturday, April 14th at the Abilene Zoo in Texas.  Elvis, doing a return engagement to our Walk, blew into town that morning on strong winds from the East and kept the 3000 attendees rocking and rolling! 

Because of the growth in participation, the Walk was still through the Zoo, but our Walk chairs, Melissa Richardson and Jenny Frazier, and their committee, moved most of the activities to outside the Zoo entrance next to the lake.  What a perfect setting to be inspired by our young people as they led our program. 

  • Taylor Trevino led us in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag and to the Texas Flag
  • Konner Frazier and his 2nd grade classmates led us in singing the national anthem.  There wasn’t a dry eye left – it was beautiful!
  • Our Resource Fair had nearly 30 participants, more than ever before!
  • Grand Club Pins and Blue Crowns were presented to 9 adults, 5 children and a clown!
  • The giraffes did not eat the banners this year, but they tried!

To date, we have raised more than $80,000 and we will continue fundraising in order to reach our $121,000 goal.  The big news is, this year, the West Texas Walks have passed $1,000,000 raised since the first Walk 8 years ago!

If you would like any further information, please contact Pat Robbins at 866-409-6227, or by email at


Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 17, 2012

Long Island Walk Now for Autism Speaks Quilt

Quilts evoke feelings of comfort and community, made up of individual squares, sewn together in a patchwork to create unique designs. They tell stories, or commemorate special events and occasions.

In 2007, the Long Island Walk Planning Committee wanted to honor the families and schools who built the Walk into the largest Walk for autism in the world. The Walk Co-Chair at the time suggested that we create a quilt that would serve as a vibrant visual history of the Walk. New teams squares could be added each year. The committee unanimously agreed that it was a fantastic idea.

We provided plain muslin quilt squares to our Walk Teams and asked them to decorate the squares to represent their loved ones affected by autism.   We were thrilled and moved by the response we got!  We looked forward to getting the mail each day, as manila envelopes containing decorated quilt pieces started to arrive. Some were elaborate and some were simple. They included photographs, drawings, inspirational words and sayings. They were done in ink, magic markers, paint, sequins and even embroidery.   As unique as each quilt square was, the common factor among them was the pride, joy and love for the individuals they depicted. The squares were a celebration of autism and its special gifts.   

Those squares came together beautifully on our first length of blue felt. Although we wanted to display the quilt at the Walk, we realized that it might be harmful to expose it to potentially unstable weather conditions at Jones Beach. Instead, we unveiled the quilt – indoors – at the Awards Reception in January.  Our Walk Teams were thrilled to see their artful creations on display, honoring their loved ones affected by autism!  Those that hadn’t made quilt squares were sorry not to have participated. They couldn’t wait for the next year’s Walk to add their own pieces.  As the Walk grew, from tens of thousands, to over twenty thousand, to upwards of thirty thousand, so grew the quilt. We now have half a dozen lengths of blue felt, festooned with quilt squares.

Word of the quilt spread throughout the autism community as well. This year, New York State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr, (R – Merrick) a dedicated autism advocate , made special arrangements to display the quilt in the New York State Capitol, in honor of Autism Awareness Month.  “These quilts are a very moving way to tell the stories of families affected by autism. Displaying them will help remind us how much of an impact autism has on our communities and the need for continued awareness and research,” said Senator Fuschillo. “I thank the members of Autism Speaks, especially Michael Giangregorio, for helping to put this display together.”  The Long Island Walk Quilt is on display in the New York State Capitol, Legislative Office Building in Albany through April 16.

For more information about the Long Island Walk, visit our Long Island Facebook page.

Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 16, 2012

2012 North Bay Walk Now for Autism Speaks

The 7th annual North Bay Walk Now for Autism Speaks occurred Saturday, April 14th at Windsor Town Green.  Though the week leading up to the Walk had heavy rain, lightning and hail, it was an absolutely beautiful day with just over 2000 attendees.  To date, we have raised $110,000 but we won’t stop till we get to our goal of $150,000 or above!

Our Walk chair, Christine Lindstrand, along with her committee, really set this Walk apart from last year with the Windsor location, a welcoming by the County Supervisor, Mike McGuire, and  increasing  the Sponsorship by 50%.  The day and the energy was absolutely amazing!  The Area Director, Cory Manalani and Regional Director, Philip Hain, are so appreciative of the support and dedication of this committee.

If you would like any further information, please contact Cory Manalani at 415-686-2772, or by email at

For more information about the Walk, visit us at

Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 10, 2012

Chat with Paul from Autism Speaks

Paul Irwin-Dudek Headshot

Friday April 13 at 1pm EST, Autism Speaks National Walk Director, Paul Irwin-Dudek, will be hosting a LIVE Chat! Please join us on our Autism Speaks Facebook page! 

Paul has been in the “walk” world for over twelve years; as a participant, executive committee member, staff partner, regional director and now leading our 95 Walk Now for Autism Speaks events across North America.  He is responsible for integrating mission, raising awareness, building the brand for our signature event and enhancing tools through and for our organizations 400,000 walkers. Join our LIVE Facebook chat to hear about some new fundraising enhancers and learn more about our “5 Key Elements of Walk”.

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