Yesterday, the Miami-Dade Chapter of Autism Speaks held its annual autism walk at JC Bermudez Park in the City of Doral, a suburb of Miami, Florida. The event, which was originally planned
for Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park, was moved after Doral officials granted event organizers a special permit to hold the walk.
“The turnout was phenomenal and it brought me to tears,” said Lula Folgosa, executive director of Autism Speaks, Miami-Dade Chapter. “This was not just a walk for autism, but it was also a walk for hope and a great way to bring autism awareness to our community," she added.
According to police estimates, approximately 20,000-22,000 turned out for the event, which included Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Autism Speaks founders Bob and Suzanne Wright.
Also in attendance were dozens of vendors, all providing information and resources for families, friends and caregivers of those affected by autism.
Daniela Foley is the mother of a four-year-old child with autism and attended the event with over 100 team members, consisting mostly of friends and family. She too, was impressed by the turnout.
“When you see a crowd like that come together for a common cause, it really renews your faith in the good things about people,” she said.
Foley and her team raised approximately $10,000 and attended the walk as a way to support Autism Speaks, who she said played an integral role in helping her after her son’s diagnosis.
Through a Google search, she came across the Autism Speaks Web site and received the “100 Day Kit,” an informational guide that helps families of newly diagnosed individuals.
“Had I not come across that kit, I would have been lost,” Foley said.
Her team helped contribute to the estimated $700,000 that was raised from yesterday’s walk, which will be applied to research, awareness, advocacy and family services.
Autism Speaks will be holding a similar rally next week in West Palm Beach and also plans walks for many other cities around the country in the coming months.
For more information on Walk Now for Autism Speaks, visit http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/ .