Posted by: Autism Speaks | April 12, 2010

Why I Walk by an Autism Speaks Employee

Aunt Beth and Brendan

We kicked off a new decade of Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Pittsburgh. Over 450 individuals joined us to share their personal stories and inspiration for walking. Each year, I provide the participants an Autism Speaks update to share where their fundraising dollars go. I did the same again this year, but decided it was time to share my personal story.

As many of the volunteer committee members know, I began my career with Autism Speaks with the legacy organization National Alliance for Autism Research back in April 2004 on a temporary basis only. I was a stay-at-home mom, not ready to go back to work, taking care of two young children, one of whom has Down syndrome. My spare time and energy was spent volunteering with a local Down syndrome organization to organize a yearly walk event to help raise awareness. From my experience there, I met a wonderful friend who also has a son with autism. To make a long story short, the NAAR Walk committee needed help desperately, so my friend, knowing I had walk experience asked if I was interested. I promised to help them get through the Walk scheduled for June, but that I was not ready to take on a full-time job.

Needless to say, almost six years later, I am still an employee of Autism Speaks. I was so inspired by the dedication and commitment of all the families that I felt as though I was giving something small back and decided that this was my place to be never thinking that autism would affect me personally.  However, that changed and at today’s Kickoff Luncheon, I shared my inspiration for walking and why I am so dedicated to my employer, Autism Speaks.

I introduced my five-year old nephew, Brendan and brought him on stage with me where he waved hello to everyone. Brendan is my inspiration to continue the work that I do for Autism Speaks and Why I Walk each year.  Early in my presentation, I promised the attendees that they would hear personal stories, learn about families’ hopes and dreams and see the faces of autism. I was proud to share not only my dream with our supporters, but my belief…..that one day, Brendan would sleep through the night and one day tell his Mom and Dad he loves them, and to tell his Mom, Justine, not only today, but every April 9th – “Happy Birthday Mom!”.

Who is your inspiration to Walk? What are your dreams? What are your beliefs?  Share with us and help us raise the necessary funds to continue to support the mission of Autism Speaks and helps us raise $1 million in Pittsburgh. To learn more about the Walk, go to

I am proud to be an employee of Autism Speaks. We fund the best research, not just in Pittsburgh, but in the World! We take care of our families now by providing outstanding tools and services through our Family Services Department and do an amazing job of spreading awareness so that we can help improve the lives of every family that is affected by autism.


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