Posted by: Autism Speaks | June 21, 2010

Team Captain Tips from the Most Successful Chicago Team Ever!

Spencer, team captain of Team Tyler, with Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks

Written by Spencer Savitz, the 14 year old team captain of Team Tyler, and brother of Tyler.  To date, his team has raised over $100,000!  Team Tyler is the most successful team in Chicago Walk history.

When I decided to participate in the Walk three years ago, I was thinking of how I could raise the most money. I wouldn’t have been very effective by myself, so I decided to create a team consisting of my friends and Tyler’s friends to help me raise money and participate in the Walk. I asked people to be team captains and informed them about autism, Autism Speaks, the Walk, and our goals as a team. These team captains helped me lead the effort in raising money for the team and they helped me attract more team members. From these incredible efforts we have raised almost $200,000 in the past three years. We have also truly raised awareness of autism in our community.

One of the lessons I have learned from this experience is how to motivate a team and keep team members focused. I had to inform people about recent updates to our team and how we as a team and as individuals were doing. I gave people weekly tips on how to raise money and I offered incentives for raising the most money during a certain time period. I sent out weekly emails and called people who didn’t respond and we gave all team members a team t-shirt and asked them to commit to raising money and walking.  That way I knew who I could count on to walk with our team and who I should assist in raising money. I had to encourage everyone to get started but once they began, they were fully focused and motivated on doing whatever they could to raise money for Team Tyler.

I also learned a lot about the creativity and commitment of our team members. I learned that if kids are well-informed, especially if they know someone with autism, they are more than willing to help. Both my and Tyler’s friends have raised thousands of dollars, using their own creative ideas. They inspired others, raised awareness for autism, and brought their friends to the team. We had people conduct bake sales, send out letters and emails to family friends, talk to their parents’ business associates, collect loose change from friends and neighbors, sell Autism Speaks bracelets and puzzle pieces at restaurants, stores, Starbucks, and at their school, and ask local businesses to sponsor our team. From all of these efforts, my friends and Tyler’s friends have raised more money than we could have ever imagined.

Raising money for Walk Now for Autism Speaks has taught me some great lessons about awareness and compassion. I can tell you that many people are aware of what autism is and have some awareness about its prevalence, but when you tell them that 1 in 110 children born today will be diagnosed with autism and that the number is 1 in 70 for boys, you see an expression of disbelief. When you tell them that more children will be diagnosed this year with autism than AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined, they ask if you are sure about your statistics. And when you tell them that you have a brother or friend with autism, they reach into their wallets and offer to help.

I want to say thank you to Jack Elrad, Dylan Hardin, and Brett Zaslavsky, three – fifth grade friends of Tyler’s, for their amazing fundraising efforts, raising $8,185.04. Also, I would like to thank all the other amazing members of Team Tyler for doing a great job raising money and joining me in the Walk. I would like to thank my mom and dad for inspiring me to create this team in the first place and helping me stay focused on the team. I would like to give a huge thank you to E-Street Denim’s Thomas and Kathy George for supporting Team Tyler for the past three years, designing and supplying our team t-shirts, having promotions in their stores, and for the great concert this year that raised money for our team. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Finally, I would like to thank my brother, Tyler, because without him, I wouldn’t be here today. His smile, playfulness, love of music, and overall happy attitude are what made us so inspired to raise money for autism. Thank you everyone that attended and supported the Walk. I hope you will continue coming to Walk Now for Autism Speaks as an annual tradition, until a cure is found for this devastating disease.



  1. Your devotion and love for your brother and the fact that at your young age, you have done so much for advocating knowledge and help for others and made an amazing jump for this organization truly inspires me. I am 30 years old and I don’t think I could have influenced the world as much as you have thus far. Congratulations on your successes and I wish you the best for more to come. You are definetely an inspiration for many people and someone people would be lucky to know! God bless.

  2. Wow! I am very proud of you!:) You are the reason reaserch has gotten so far! I am the team captain this year and I hope to be atleast half the captain you are!

  3. You are amazing! Thank you!

  4. you are an inspiration to many many people i just read your story, and it inspires me as well, this year will be my first walk, i have a 7 year old grandson with autism, and im the team captain, so im all new to this, i cant wait for this walk, gonna be so much fun, and i hope one day my grandson will be proud of me. im glad i found and read your story,

    team jadyn

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