20,000 walkers generate $1.5 mil for autism research


mill avStory by Lyndsey Waugh
Photo by Mallory Photography

A record-setting 20,000 walkers –
including individuals with autism,
their families and friends – joined
forces at Tempe Beach Park Oct. 27 for
the annual Arizona Walk Now for Autism
Speaks, resulting in what planners say
was increased awareness for the disorder
and, happily, more than $1.5 million in
The event is part of Autism Speaks’
national walk program that includes more
than 90 events in North America each year.
In Arizona, the organization partners with
the Southwest Autism Research & Resource
Center, and proceeds from the event benefit
both organizations.
“The partnership between Autism
Speaks and SARRC is unique because
there’s a real value in knowing that half of
the dollars raised contribute to the good
work Autism Speaks is doing nationally,”
said Derek Greene, 2013 Arizona walk
chairman and owner of Tempe-based
moving company Get Your Move On.
“The other half remains, local helping
families here in our community.”
“Through Autism Speaks, dollars from
the walk fund research, advocacy and a
variety of programs under the nonprofit’s
Family Services designed to support
families and individuals living with autism,”
said Amy Hummell, senior director with
Autism Speaks.
At SARRC, dollars raised from this
year’s walk will fund existing programs
for children with autism, including
scholarships for SARRC’s early intervention
programs, as well as programs for
adults with autism that teach skills for
independent living and employment, and
clinical research, according to Hummell..
Sprouts Farmers Market, which
sponsors the event, announced on walk day
that the company raised over $1.15 million
for the walk with the help of its vendors. In
addition to fundraising, Sprouts also played
a role on-site by featuring dozens of booths
where walkers could sample products, pick
up fresh, healthy snacks and experience an
on-site “neighborhood market”, complete
with recyclable grocery bags.
Valley Honda Dealers’ Helpful Guys in
Blue were also at the walk with a volunteer
team to assist and greet walkers with
complimentary sunscreen, provide race
directions along the route, and lend a hand
at the finish line and in the kids’ zone.
For the second year, Valley Honda
Dealers served as the walk’s official Start/
Finish Line Sponsor.
The walk, which is free to attend, also
featured more than 50 autism resource
organizations, providing families with
a one-stop shop for information about
autism; a kids’ activity zone; and live music
and entertainment.
Autism is a developmental disorder
commonly diagnosed by age 3, and
characterized by varying degrees of
impairment in communication, social
interaction and behavior.
Nationally, one in 88 children are
affected. In Arizona, autism affects one in
64 children.
Information: www.autismspeaks.org or
SARRC at www.autismcenter.org.



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