#OliveCares: Walking for Awareness - Autism Speaks

Last year, I was lucky enough to volunteer with Penn Softball for an Autism Speaks event. It was one of the most rewarding experiences even in the November icy cold (which my Texas-native self later learned is nothing compared to when February rolls around.)  For this week’s #OliveCares post, I want to highlight both this great organization and one of their upcoming events.

Autism Speaks, the leading autism science and advocacy organization, is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism; increasing awareness of autism; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The organization was founded back in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, grandparents of a child with autism.

Autism Speaks funds countless research programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, a collaboration between Autism Speaks and some of the finest children’s hospitals and academic institutions in North America, specializing in multi-disciplinary medical care for children with autism. Together, they work to develop evidence-based protocols and standards of care for many of the most challenging medical conditions surrounding autism today. Autism Speaks even collaborates with Google on their program “MSSNG,” a groundbreaking project to create the world’s largest genomic database on autism, sequencing the DNA of over 10,000 families affected by autism. The goal of MSSNG is to identify the many subtypes of autism, which may lead to more personalized and accurate treatments.

Research programs like these and so many others are funded by the Autism Speaks Walk, the world’s largest fundraising event to support the diverse needs of the autism community. This grassroots movement is powered by parents of children on the autism spectrum, generating funds that fuel this innovative research and make connections to critical lifelong supports and services.

Walk events are now being hosted all over the country! On Saturday, October 22, Autism Speaks will be hosting a walk at Philadelphia’s own Citizens Bank Park. All walkers raising $150 or more will receive a commemorative T­shirt on Walk Day and will get a special mention on their website. Don’t feel like walking? You can still donate to help the cause to a  specific walker, team or general event. To get involved, register for an Autism Speaks Walk near you at www.autismspeakswalk.org.

My time with Autism Speaks was spent running around like a mad woman with 23 other softball players asking anyone willing to listen to sign up for Autism Speaks updates. And yet, in that crazy process, I met some wonderful people who were both willing to listen about the cause and had compelling stories of their own related to autism. #OliveCares is all about spreading awareness to help make the world a better place, which is why Autism Speaks is such a perfect organization to have our spotlight this week.


Molly Oretsky

Molly Oretsky