DECEMBER 9

AUTISM SPEAKS WALK

North Collier Regional Park

15000 Livingston Road, Naples

Saturday, Dec. 9

Opening Ceremony at 10 a.m.

Info: (561)465-0054

Registration: www.autismspeakswalk.org

THE EVENT

Autism Speaks Walk is the world’s largest autism fundraising event dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism. The local event is being powered by the love of parents, relatives and friends who are bringing the walk to Southwest Florida this month with a goal of raising $40,000 for research and support services.

Among them is Bella Terra resident Sal Dassaro, who has named his team “Danny’s Smile” in honor of his autistic son. He is serving as logistics chair for the walk and has raised funds through connections with his tennis club, local restaurants and the Knights of Columbus.

“This is basically the start-from-the-ground-up campaign for the Southwest Florida area to have such a walk for a such a great purpose,” he says. “20 years ago when my son, Daniel, was diagnosed as being autistic, the statistics at that time showed that 1 in 10,000 children, mostly boys, were on the autism spectrum. Today that statistic is 1 in 68.”

Registration for Walk begins at 9 a.m., with “sensory-friendly” opening ceremonies scheduled for 10 a.m. The event will be family oriented and will include a resource tent with helpful information. The 1.5-mile walk around North Collier Regional Park will commence at 10:30 a.m.

Alpha Xi Delta is the North American sponsor of Autism Speaks. Local sponsors for the Southwest Florida walk include St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

THE CAUSE

Autism Speaks is dedicated to advancing research into causes and better treatments for autism spectrum disorders through direct funding and collaboration. Through its Local Grants Program, Autism Speaks has provided more than $500,000 to innovative local service providers throughout the state of Florida. The organization also provides grants to families through the Autism Speaks Care Grant program.

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