Over 1,200 walkers help raise more than $115,000 to support the autism inclusive programs of the Autism Society of Greater Akron
Pictured: Step Into Autism at Firestone Stadium in Akron (Photo credit: Melissa Hathaway)
Over 1,200 people took a “Step Into Autism” on Saturday, June 15, to support individuals and families living with autism in the Akron community. Located at Firestone Stadium, the Autism Society of Greater Akron’s (ASGA) ninth annual autism awareness walk raised funds to support its locally based autism inclusive programs. The nonprofit was elated with the participation it received from families, sponsors, and the community in general.
“We look forward to this day like no other! It’s a day when individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them come together at one event to rally together. Step Into Autism is also ASGA’s signature fundraiser, which resulted in us exceeding our $115,000 fundraising goal. The overwhelming amount of support is a positive sign of increased understanding and acceptance for individuals living with autism in Greater Akron. We can’t thank our community enough,” said Laurie Cramer, executive director of ASGA.
Step Into Autism, formerly the Autism 5k Run and Walk, chose not to offer a 5k run this year in an effort to cater the event to families impacted by autism. Before and after the walk, those families were treated to plenty of fun activities inside Firestone Stadium. New this year was a Safety Zone featuring first responders in uniform, carnival games, a dunk tank occupied by elected officials and community leaders, and a kid’s play zone. Those in attendance were also able to enjoy bounce houses, a fun run around the bases, and numerous characters in uniform.
Pictured: Step Into Autism walk on Firestone Boulevard in Akron (Photo credit: Melissa Hathaway)
The top fundraising team of 2019 was Team BeeBoat, which raised over $9,500 under the leadership of Tim Piatt, ASGA board member, and Event Committee Chairman. This year’s Presenting Sponsor was a joint sponsorship between Cleveland Clinic Akron General and Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. The hospitals combined to have over 250 employees who walked and supported ASGA in shirts that read “We’re Autism Friendly!”
Dr. Brian Harte, President of Cleveland Clinic Akron General, and Step Into Autism’s Honorary Chair, said, “We were honored to be a part of this spectacular event here in Akron. At Cleveland Clinic Akron General, we are continuously working with the Autism Society of Greater Akron and its Autism Friendly Communities program, so this event was an obvious place for us to show our support and focus on the impact this partnership can make for the developmental disabilities community here in Akron. As one of the first adult hospitals to become certified Autism Friendly, we understand not only the importance of our preparation, but also providing the best care for patients with autism.”
Piatt said, “We definitely have to thank each and every sponsor who helped make this event a success, especially Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Cleveland Clinic Children’s, Bevan & Associates, REM Ohio, Summit DD, FirstEnergy Foundation and The Office Place. Their support, along with that of local families, ASGA’s staff and Firestone Stadium, made this event a truly unforgettable experience for families impacted by autism, like mine.”
Pictured: Presenting Sponsor Cleveland Clinic Akron General walk team (Photo credit: Ken Cushner)