On Sunday, October 23, more than 20,000 people from across the state gathered at Tempe Beach Park in support of the Autism Speaks Walk in Partnership with SARRC. The annual event raised an estimated $875,000 that will go toward supporting autism programs and research. Half of all monies raised during the walk will stay in Arizona. It is the state’s largest annual autism awareness event.
“One in every 68 children are diagnosed with autism, affecting many Arizona families,” said Dr. Daniel Openden, SARRC’s president and CEO. “Events like the Autism Speaks Walk not only promote awareness about autism spectrum disorders but also raise funds for critical research and programs that help individuals with autism better access our community. SARRC would like to thank all those who supported the walk, including our many sponsors, thousands of participants and the dozens of resource booths that provide valuable information for our attendees.”
Dr. Openden added that, because of the surge in research, awareness and programs geared toward autism, there is a lot of hope for children, adolescents and adults. “Early identification and intervention remain critical for producing the best long-term outcomes,” he said. “But many adolescents and adults benefit from SARRC’s programs as well and are demonstrating they can learn the necessary skills to participate more fully in the community, find a job and live independently.”
Added to a 1-mile and 5K walk options at the event, there was also a resource fair for attendees. The event’s major sponsors included Sprouts, MC Companies, 3TV, Arizona Ford Dealers and Silver Tree Special Needs Planning.
“I’m always struck by the diversity of families and walk teams, not to mention all of the sponsors, providers, performers and more, who contribute to the walk,” Dr. Openden said. “This is unlike any of our other events because it brings together those who are affected by autism with those that support them.”
The next fundraising event for the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) will be its Annual Community Breakfast taking place in spring 2017.
Photos from the 2016 Autism Speaks Walk in Partnership with SARRC can be seen here.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of autism here.