Sun., Oct. 27 will mark the 14th year in which SARRC will celebrate its annual walk event in partnership with Autism Speaks. Like many walkers, for Noel Salt, the event “called” to him, he says. Noel’s son has Asperger’s, and the walk was a way for him to learn more about how he could find support and comradery —not to mention something he and his son could participate in together.
“As I learned more about the event, I felt I needed to share my understanding and experiences with others. The Walk is a way that I do that. When I started working at Discount Tire in 2017, I had an inspired moment when I saw that there were periodic fundraising efforts for various charities,” Noel shares. “At just that same time I received an information email about the Walk from SARRC. Putting it together gave me the thought to ask the 'Civics and Charity Club' at Discount Tire to see if there could be interest in having a walk team and create awareness at the Discount Tire corporate office.”
Noel put together a presentation, and after reviewing it, his company was on board.
“I was granted the support of the Club, along with a jeans day and 50/50,” he says.
As he plans his participation for this year, he notes that there are several ways to increase your impact.
Since Noel found that getting an early start, especially when engaging his employer and his colleagues, was most effective, he begins his efforts three-four months before the event.
Like Noel, we encourage our teams to get an early start. This allows participants plenty of time to engage their networks and reach their fundraising goals! Getting an early start also gives teams a chance to win incentives for raising a minimum of $150, all the way up to unique day-of experiences offered to those who raise more than $1,000.
Plus, registering early lets our team know how many people to expect on the day of the walk.
Look for Both Participants and Donations
There is no minimum donation and no maximum for dollars. And, when working with an event, participation or donations of time are just as important to a team’s success as donations.
Noel points out that for him, it’s just as much about participation. He measures his team’s success through a balance of participation: How many walkers actually showed up and gave their time as well as how much money was raised.
“Money is a renewable resource. Time is not,” he says.
In its first two years, Team Discount Tire has averaged 30 team members and raised an average of $7,800 each year.
One way to raise a larger overall number of funds is to approach your employer, which is how Noel began.
“Find out how corporate giving works and plug into it,” he suggests. “If your company has a donation program find out how to plug into that. For me, I found out about Discount Tire’s giving programs and gave my pitch.
“As long as you’re respectful with your asks then it shouldn’t hurt to ask. Just realize you are likely competing for giving dollars with other organizations, so remain respectful of that and find out what’s available. You never know what might be available!”
For Noel, he not only was able to secure the jeans day and 50/50 raffle but also a per-walker incentive that Discount Tire would donate for each person that showed up to participate in the Walk. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of some key people that came to my aid including Cat, Tony, Amelia, and Shannon. They helped me with the timeline, who to contact and the communications. At Discount Tire we say, 'We do this together'.”
“In addition, I’ve tried to get an increased corporate commitment by asking about sponsorships and other types of support. It’s not just a financial contribution. It’s also the voice behind it. It takes time for things to become institutionalized, so I’m sticking with it and each year will ask again. There are competing asks for charitable giving so I have to remain sensitive to that,” Noel explains.
Where Do Donations Go?
As the event name suggests, the Autism Speaks Walk in partnership with SARRC is just that: A partnership! Half of all funds raised stay right in Arizona to support SARRC’s programs, services and research. The other half is designated to Autism Speaks’ mission and funds research and resources for those nationwide.
Walk Day Details
Nearly 15,000 walkers are expected to participate on Sun., Oct. 27, so participants are encouraged to register ahead of time to beat the lines. Registration opens at 8 a.m.
Walkers who have raised $150 can claim their 2019 commemorative walk T-shirt at registration! Walkers can also visit the numerous resource providers which will be on-site until 11:30 a.m. In addition, there will be plenty of kid-friendly activities including face painting, crafts, and bounce houses.
Registration is free. Instead, participants are encouraged to set a goal and fundraise either as an individual, a team or by joining a team! The earlier you register, the more time you have to track your team's progress and get access to resources, fundraising tools and much more. Within the online fundraising center, Autism Speaks has created a dynamic online fundraising portal that participants can customize, access helpful tools and information, and much more.
At 9:30 a.m., walkers can choose between a 1- or 3-mile route. Hydration stations are provided throughout both routes. Strollers are welcome but please no bikes or scooters. A walk route map can be viewed here.
Sometimes the walk environment can become overwhelming, so there are designated spaces that can be used as a safe outlet. Please ask a volunteer at the Information Booths when you arrive to point you in the location of the quiet zones.
If you’re a company looking to bolster your involvement, there are a number of ways you can show your support. Take advantage of sponsorship opportunities starting at $2,500. Please note that restrictions may apply. Or, start a company walk team and increase your impact by engaging your company employees. If you’d like to learn more, please contact Randi O'Connor at 602.606.9896 or by email.
Volunteer at the Walk:
SARRC is always looking for helping hands to help leading up to, and the day of, the event. Whether you're interested in volunteering as an individual or team, your time and talent is a tremendous help to the success of the walk event! Learn more here.