Campus

The World’s Largest Autism Fundraiser Returns

CSI’s Autism Speaks Walk Raises Over $230,000

By: Steven Aiello

Participants Walking Outside Nearby CSIs Center For the Arts (1P).

Autism is disorder that has existed for over a century, though accurate understanding of said disorder has only come about in recent years.

Autism, more commonly referred to as the autism spectrum disorder, is not a single disorder as much as it is an array of disorders, affecting a person’s social skills and ability to communicate verbally or nonverbally.

Much of the focus on autism has shifted from curing the disorder, to accepting it, and the people it affects.

One of the most prominent outlets for this, is the Autism Speaks Walk.

The Autism Speaks Walk is a fundraiser that seeks to “promote solutions across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan for the needs of people with autism and their families.”

Autism Speaks was founded by Bob and Suzanne Wright in 2005, in order to increase awareness and services for autism, namely, in honor of their autistic grandson, Christian Wright.

Since its founding, there have been over 60 different walks held annually throughout the country.

The 2017 fundraiser was the sixth walk to be held on Staten Island, and the fifth one to be held at CSI.

Although the walk is the focus of the event, no money is raised from the activity itself. All money is obtained from donations before and during the event, though the walk isn’t without purpose.

Many people, notably the parents of autistic people, participate in the walk for various personal and emotional reasons, such as supporting family and friends or to create a greater sense of community.

Additional information can be found under the “Why We Walk” column on Autism Speaks act website.

Cumulatively, these walks have raised over $1,000,000 for autism awareness, with the 2017 event raising roughly $230,000.

The event was also sponsored by a variety of local corporations and businesses, as well as certain schools, such as PS 69.

Of the $230,000 garnered, the majority, roughly three quarters, will contribute to funding services for family and autism awareness, in addition to researching autism, most likely to find solutions to better manage it.

These efforts have also led to the creation of additional initiatives such as World Autism Awareness Day, World Autism Awareness Month, and Light It Up Blue.

As a collection of disorders, autism has become increasingly broader in its scope and what it defines, even encompassing Asperger’s Syndrome.

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 68 children in the United States suffer from a disorder on the spectrum.

The increase in children with autism correlates with the new approach to autism, which is to support, and accept people with autism.

“Autistic people should think they are part of the community…they should feel comfortable in their own skin.” remarked Kathy Stein, a participant of the Autism Walk and mother of an autistic child.

This attitude of accepting and assisting was also prominent for other participants of the walk.

Supported by various teams such as Team Thomas, and Fight for Frankie, walkers were able to raise almost $100,000 on their own to help the cause.

Other sponsors also provided a similar amount of money through donations.

Although the target goal of $292,000 was not met completely, the money obtained will contribute to resources and other services intended to better the lives of autistic people.

These resources and services appeal to a wide variety of age groups from young children to adults, and include things such as improved safety and outreach, as well as resource guides and toolkits.

Though a cure for autistic spectrum disorder is unlikely, an immeasurable effort has gone towards accepting autism and the people it affects.

David Berenbaum, a senior coordinator and overseer for Autism Speaks’ national collegiate program and Autism Speaks U, attested that “everyone has their own disability, regardless of who they are.”

 

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