Autism Walk 2010
by Steve West on November 6, 2010
We go on this walk annually and have seen it grow tremendously over the last seven years. What began for us as a walk to support a local fundraising group has evolved into a national campaign spearheaded by the Autism Speaks organization. It hasn't all been good but the majority of changes have been welcome. The event for Washington, DC takes place on the National Mall with the walk beginning near the Capitol building, past the Washington Monument, until reaching the half-way point at the Lincoln Memorial. Then the route is reversed to end near the Capitol again.
It's funny that it's still a little disorganized after doing it for a few years now. The speaker at the assembled stage area was shouting into the microphone, "Start Walking! Head for the monument!" In a city full of monuments, that's a pretty vague statement. Near the end of the walk was a group of young women clapping and cheering for the last leg of the walk. I would have preferred them to be cheering us upon our arrival when it was still below 50 degrees and 8:00 in the morning. "Thanks for getting your tired ass out of bed and getting here!" That would have been welcome. Olivia couldn't do the entire walk (it's supposedly a 5K thing) so we took a shortcut and did a couple rounds on the Carousel on the Mall. It actually sports that semi-pretentious name. Like it's somehow different, nay better, than all those pretender carousels. At $5.00 a round, you think it'd come with a case of scotch or a six-pack of Billy Beer.
Plenty of our friends joined us there (about twenty) and it was, of course, a very heart-warming experience for us. A Redskin or two were there leading us in pre-walk calisthenics (which I ignored), somebody semi-famous sang the National Anthem, I think I recognized a few professional hockey players from the Capitals, and the local goofy weather guy was there. A local soul singer sang a song that he wrote after his child was diagnosed with autism. And after turning in all the donations we had garnered from friends and family, we got some free walk shirts. The Walk has been very successful as far as fund raising is concerned. I believe the total for this year is over $600,000.00 for this one walk. It happens in about 80 cities across the country and I can't even guess what that accumulates in dollars but I can tell you what it means to me individually.
Brenda and I are not alone. What an amazing, eclectic sample of individuals we saw. One in every hundred families now has an autistic child. The numbers are rising. I recognize some of the groups now by name: Patrick's Team; Nelson's Crew; Team Christine; and of course Olivia Can (our team). We've created a scrapbook filled with photos of which these Walk pictures are a part. Olivia can't appreciate fully what these pictures represent but Brenda and I do. I can't wait until the day Olivia and I wistfully page through this album and she can sense a small measure of how much she was, and still is, loved.
Steve West scours the Web searching for interest or absurdity and then shakes his head ruefully when he finds it. Read more »