Posted by: Autism Speaks | September 28, 2009

Lucky Number 7

This is a guest blog post from Peter Bell, a senior executive at Autism Speaks and the parent of a 16 year old who has autism:

Lucky #7

Lucky #7

This year’s walk was different. Seven years ago, my wife Liz and I helped start the Philadelphia autism walk. In the early years, we were the organizers. For months, we worked on every detail, from registration, to team cultivation to corporate sponsorships, even where to locate the water stops. Later, our responsibilities turned towards rallying the troops. As a member of the senior leadership team at Autism Speaks, I tried to energize everyone explaining how the organization was working to make a difference for families and their loved ones with autism. There’s nothing more invigorating than standing before 10,000 people who are pinning their hopes and dreams on new breakthroughs, more research, more government support and better services.

But this year was different. I was there as captain of “iTrek for Tyler”, our family team dedicated to my 16 year old son, Tyler. In addition to local family, our team included classmates, members of our church, neighbors, teachers, therapists and life-long friends. Over 30 strong. Another first…we designed our own t-shirts that played up Tyler’s love for his iPod. We had time to roam the resource fair and meet other families and their teams. We also had time to notice other t-shirts this year. One of my favorites was the Philadelphia “LOVE” logo with a blue puzzle-piece substituted for the “O”.

Another thing I will remember was the emotion of this year’s walk. Having new AS board member Holly Robinson Peete there with her son RJ was just cool. Philly is her home town and you could feel the love and pride from the crowd for their hometown girl. Another highlight was PA Representative Denny O’Brien speaking about his nephew Chris who passed away earlier this year. Denny has done so much for the autism community; it was our turn to show him our love and support for his family. In a funny way, walks help us love and respect one another even more.

This marked the 7th annual walk in Philadelphia. There’s something unique about # 7. For some, it’s a lucky number. For others (especially married couples), it can be scary. But for us, it was just perfect. Many thanks to the following people who have helped make the Philly Autism Walk one of the best: Brightman Family, Cynthia Day, Greg Finelli, Stacey Fleigelman, Marciarose Shestack, Bob and Reenie Stirling, Kathie Tomzcuk, and Wendy Tucker.

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Responses

  1. Pleased to hear you are walking for autism. I have a 26 year old autistic son. Its really tough in the early days, but you get there with the help of people who understand and care. good luck


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