Ninth Annual Walk for Autism to Benefit the Autism Society of Greater Akron, Highlights work with Cleveland Clinic Akron General to Become Designated as Autism Friendly

Featuring Honorary Chairman, Brian Harte, M.D., President of Cleveland Clinic Akron General, along with presenting sponsorship from Cleveland Clinic Akron General/Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital

smallBSF 1443

Pictured: 2018’s Autism Walk at Firestone Stadium in Akron

On the morning of Saturday, June 15, professionals, families, neighbors, and friends will come together to celebrate autism and promote understanding at Step Into Autism (formerly the Autism 5k Run and Walk), a one-mile walk and family event to benefit the Autism Society of Greater Akron (ASGA).

This year’s presenting sponsor is Cleveland Clinic Akron General/Cleveland Clinic Children’s. The Honorary eventtagsChair is Brian Harte, M.D., President of Cleveland Clinic Akron General. The budding partnership between ASGA and Cleveland Clinic Akron General goes beyond Step Into Autism. For the past two years, Cleveland Clinic Akron General has been participating in ASGA’s Autism Friendly program, which educates professionals on how to accommodate individuals with autism. At the completion of the program, about 400 employees will have received training on autism, and policies and procedures will have been updated. Cleveland Clinic Akron General will be the first known major national hospital to be designated as Autism Friendly.

“We are so proud to have Dr. Harte as our Honorary Chairman and Cleveland Clinic Akron General/Cleveland Clinic Children’s as our presenting sponsor. Strengthening the “Autism Friendly” commitment outside the walls of the hospital by supporting and attending our largest family event really puts the emphasis where it should be: on individuals and families living with autism,” said Laurie Cramer, Executive Director of ASGA.

“Training Cleveland Clinic Akron General caregivers and updating procedures so that we can better accommodate individuals with autism is an important part of who we are as a hospital,” said Dr. Harte, Honorary Chair of Step Into Autism. “We are focused on being the best place for patients to receive care and working to become ‘Autism Friendly’ helps ensure we are doing so for everyone.”

Step Into Autism will feature a one-mile walk on Firestone Boulevard toward Firestone Park. Back at Firestone Stadium, there will be family-friendly activities such as carnival games, inflatables, a live DJ, vendor fair, sensory zone, and more. For the first time, the event will not feature a timed 5k run in an effort to emphasize the one mile walk and family entertainment aspects.

“Over the years, this event has become much more than a fundraiser for our programs. It means a lot to parents, caregivers, and families affected by autism to have their community say, “I’m here to support you”. Step Into Autism truly is a celebration of individuals living with autism and the heroes within the autism community,” Cramer said.

Tim Piatt, this year’s Walk Chair and ASGA Board Member, said, “With an estimated 17,000 people in the Greater Akron area living with autism, the funds we raise at this event are more impactful than most of our attendees even imagine. All money raised stays local and supports inclusive programs, impacting about 3,000 individuals annually. It’s also why we were so excited to work with Cleveland Clinic Akron General to provide them Autism Friendly training and have their organization involved in this event. It’s a time to celebrate and recognize the commitment they have made with us.”

Step Into Autism begins at 8:30 am on Saturday, June 15 at Firestone Park. Registration is free, however official event t-shirts are only provided to individuals who raise $50 or more for their fundraising team by May 31. Donations are also accepted and encouraged.

Learn more about Step Into Autism at 

small Cleveland Clinic pic Update
Pictured: Autism Friendly training at Cleveland Clinic Akron General with (left to right) Dr. Bill Lanzinger, Chief Hand Surgeon, Cleveland Clinic Akron General and Chairman of ASGA’s Board of Directors, Cleveland Clinic Akron General staff members Mary Kay Rodgers and Gia Bell, ASGA Executive Director Laurie Cramer, ASGA Director of Programs Lisa Thompson, and Cleveland Clinic Akron General Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Andre Lessears.