Over 750 people in downtown Akron to celebrate
13th Annual Autism Society of Greater Akron’s Step Into Autism
Presented by FirstEnergy Corp.

(Akron, June 10, 2023) — The Autism Society of Greater Akron’s (ASGA) 13th Annual Step Into Autism, presented by FirstEnergy Corp., welcomed over 750 participants, 73 Teams, 25 volunteers, and 30 vendors, to show support for individuals and families living with Autism in the Greater Akron community.

Laurie Cramer, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron, said “There are never enough words to capture the spirit of this day.  While this event is our signature fundraiser, it is also a community-wide rallying day for people living the Autism journey.”

Step Into Autism was held at the City of Akron’s Lock 3 alternate site due to the park being under construction.  The Autism Acceptance Walk and Resource Fair is a place where families feel supported and connected, both to each other and to the greater community, in a safe environment that welcomes everyone. ASGA raised almost $90,000, which represents about 25% of the organization’s operating budget. Money raised stays local to support ASGA’s programs and services throughout the year.

Meet Gina Smoley, the mother of three-year-old Carter who was recently diagnosed with Autism, created the 40-person team Carter’s Crew. “This was our first Autism walk and our entire family and many of our friends joined our team. We were in total awe at how many people were there. We kept telling Carter, “This day is about you!”  We’re so busy with therapies and being told ‘work on this, and now you have to do that,’ that sometimes we don’t get to just be a family. Today, we just enjoyed him and being together.”

Carter’s Crew raised over $3,000 for ASGA, “We raise money to support ASGA because they are the fun side of Autism; no therapies, no requirements,” said Gina. “We can just be a family and enjoy the events they host in a safe environment that is created with families like ours in mind.”

ASGA serves over 11,000 individuals and families in Summit, Stark, Medina, Portage and Wayne counties annually. Its programs include community-based family events that are adapted to support the unique needs of Autistic individuals, Social Clubs for all ages, Support Groups, educational webinars designed to empower families, a free HelpLine, and community training in Autism.

Cramer concluded, “We cannot do what we do without the support of our community. We absolutely love this event and all that it represents. Big thank you to all the sponsors and vendors who show up and say, ‘you matter.’

This year’s presenting “Premier” sponsor was FirstEnergy Corporation. Diamond Sponsors were REM Ohio, and Akron Children’s Hospital.  The 2023 top fundraising teams, raising $1,000 or more, or Grand Club Members, were:

Team BeeBoat, Tim and Jennifer Piatt, Green, OH, $6,350.00

Carter’s Crew, Gina and Robert Smoley, Rootstown, $3,145

Team Alena, Terri and Bill McGurk, Akron, $2,760

Philip’s Fans, Laurie and Gregg Cramer, Fairlawn, $1,850

Andrew’s Heroes, Gary and Amber Vojtush, $1,780, Macedonia

Drew’s Walking Shoes, Sasha Blust and Andy Blust, Twinsburg, $1,560

Akron Children’s Hospital Neurodevelopmental Science Center, Akron, $1,400

We’re Psyched, Dr. Laura Markley, Norton, $1,175

Team JET, Daniel and Suzanne Tompkins, Akron, $1,170

Team Pink, Ryan and Laurie Pink, Rittman, $1,155

The T-shirt Contest winner was Kelsey Shaw, Warsaw, who designed this year’s commemorative shirt. The Springfield Sparkle Cheerleaders once again cheered the walkers, their 13th year of doing so!

ASGA’s second annual Stark County Step Into Autism will be held August 12, 2023, at the McKinley Monument and Museum.  More information can be found at www.autismakron.org/stepintoautism.

The Autism Society of Greater Akron (ASGA) is part of a nationwide network of affiliates that are part of the Autism Society of America, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization.  ASGA serves Summit, Stark, Wayne, Portage and Medina counties (OH) and works locally to achieve its mission: We create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully.

Photo of Carter’s Crew, quoted in article, Smoley Family

SIA Smoley Family