The passion of the Ontario autism community was no match for G20 traffic threats as the largest ever gathering of walkers made their way to Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Sunday, June 20 for the sixth annual Ontario Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada. Walk Chair, Scott Chataway joined thousands of other fathers and grandfathers in celebrating the Father’s Day Walk – attended by over 7500 walkers from across the GTA and other cities in Ontario including London, Niagara Falls, North Bay, Peterborough. Grandpa Clarence DeCoste even made the trek from Nova Scotia to be part of the Walk event with his grandson Carlos! 12-year old Mitchell Daniels who lives with autism blew the crowd away with his incredible and inspiring songs, belting out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Climb” to the delight of the walkers in attendance.
Kevin Macnab, President of Toys”R”Us Canada announced the official total of the spring cross-Canada Puzzle Piece campaign and presented a cheque for $600,000 to Autism Speaks Canada. Walk Sponsorship from the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, Spin Master Ltd., Woodbine Entertainment and Toronto Community News combined with the amazing efforts of over 300 teams, brought our Walk totals to $650,000 and counting! Over 100 Grand Club members were presented with gift bags and special walk Grand Club T’s courtesy of our sponsors.
The Ontario Walk totals combined with the success of the Toys”R”Us spring campaign, bring overall fund raising revenues in Canada to $1.35 million with two additional Canadian Walks (Edmonton and Vancouver) and more events throughout the year planned.
Performance groups Lime Parade and Champagne Sinatra along with product sponsors, Mr. Case, Starbucks and Minute Maid, kept walkers well fed, informed and entertained. Hugs and High-5s were plentiful from Geoffrey, Shrek, the Star Wars Storm Troopers and the ever-popular Kool Aid guy! Special thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who made the event the best ever!