Posted by: Autism Speaks | May 19, 2010

2010 Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks

15,000 people from throughout the Chicagoland area came together in honor of their loved ones who struggle with autism to walk on May 15 for the seventh annual Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks.  Participants enjoyed the chance to walk on Soldier Field and on a beautiful three-mile course along the Lake Michigan lakefront path, winding through the Museum Campus and past the iconic Buckingham Fountain.  The Walk has raised to date nearly $1.3 million!

55 community service providers were in attendance in the Resource Fair to connect participants with area resources.  Main Stage entertainment was provided by the Take a Bow ensemble, Mistaken Identity, O A Thorp school choir and Andrew Salgado. Dee Roscioli, of the musical Wicked, performed, “Defying Gravity” in honor of Walk Chairs, Jon & Tricia Brouwers during the opening ceremonies.   Rashied Davis, honorary Walk chairman and #81 of the Chicago Bears welcomed walkers just before the Walk started.  The Northwestern Women’s basketball team, lead by Coach Joe McKeown, led walkers in a pre-Walk warm-up.  Tommy Hawk, mascot for the Chicago Blackhawks joined in to help out.  Corporate Visionary Sponsor, Allstate Insurance Company, hosted an E Shots booth where participants could have their photos taken with Chicago celebrities, including Jay Hilgenberg of the ’85 Bears, Rashied Davis, Geoffrey the Giraffe and Walk Emcee, Andy Avalos, NBC5 Chicago morning news weather anchor.

Nearly 500 volunteers staffed the event, arriving before daybreak to greet walkers with big hearts and smiles on their faces.  44 teams qualified for reserved space in the inaugural Team Village by raising more than $3,000 with 20+ team members.  The Team Village was bustling with activity and offered teams a home base and a birds-eye view of the Opening Ceremonies.  Opening ceremonies featured special remarks by Walk Emcee, Andy Avalos, NBC5 morning news weather anchor, Walk co-chairs, Jon & Tricia Brouwers, Illinois State Senators, Karen May and William Delgado, Rashied Davis of the Chicago Bears, Mark LaNeve, chief marketing officer of Allstate Insurance Company, Coach Joe McKeown of the Northwestern Women’s Basketball team, Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks and Spencer Savitz, team captain of the event’s top fundraising team, Team Tyler, named in honor of his younger brother.  14-year-old Spencer has led his team to raise nearly $100,000 and offered a rousing speech, detailing how he has been so successful.

Sponsors offered activities in their booths for walkers, including:

  • Chicago Blackhawk Charities & Campbell For Kids sold autographed Campbell for Kids baseball caps and offered Shoot the Puck, Bean Bag Toss and Bucket games
  • Allstate Insurance Company hosted the Allstate Pass Attack, Field Goal Kick and Bungee Run games and gave away small samples of blue Forget-Me-Not seed packets
  • Toys”R”Us demonstrated the Ten Toys that Speak to Autism and lucky walkers were able to take them home with them
  • Bulley & Andrews provided hard hats for the kids and offered the chance to win two Southwest Airlines tickets to anywhere in the U.S.
  • Legacy Marketing Partners provided toys for the kids and a save the date for the upcoming Autism Speaks Heroes Ball

The after party featured a petting zoo, snow cones (courtesy of Snowie Ice), grilled hot dogs and chips (courtesy of Uno Chicago Grill) and entertainment by High Street and Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players.  Special sentiments were shared along the tribute trail and souvenirs and gifts were available for purchase at the Autism Speaks merchandise tents.  The 35 walk committee members and 70 neighborhood leaders made the day a success, and we are so grateful for their support!  A crew of 25 Stormtroopers were on site, along with Darth Vader and other Star Wars characters to take pictures with the kids and keep the force strong on Walk Day.

For more photos of the Walk, visit our Chicagoland Facebook Page.

Team Tyler supporting Autism Speaks!


  1. Looks like it was an awesome event. I would love to participate in next years Chicago walk. I know my son would absolutely love all the characters. Chicago and all the people who came together for this walk ROCK and so do all the families affected!!!

  2. This is our 7th year in a row that our family participate in this great event. We did’t one more time to support our dear son “Hugo” and all the special kids on the spectrum. Thank you all that were there! We need to create more awareness in our society. Together we can do it! God bless all the parents in general but specially those parents that have children with special needs.

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