Some of Delaware’s most prominent businesses have generously stepped up to sponsor Autism Delaware’s annual Walk for Autism, with events scheduled Saturday, Oct. 15, in Milton, and Saturday, Oct. 8, in Delaware City.
Lead sponsors Del-One Foundation, Hybridge Learning Group and Artisans’ Bank have recently been joined by Champion Sponsors ChristianaCare Health System, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer’s Community Development Fund, and business entrepreneur Steve Masterson, who has set up a team in honor of his grandson Cash, who is on the autism spectrum.
Autism Delaware’s relationship with ChristianaCare dates back many years. Two of the participants in the agency’s adult vocational services program, Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation, aka POW&R, have been employed in the pharmacy department at ChristianaCare for more than 10 years, and other participants work as patient escorts or in environmental services. In addition, ChristianaCare and Autism Delaware have partnered on Project SEARCH, a nationally recognized program focused on individuals with significant barriers to employment.
“ChristianaCare is proud to sponsor Autism Delaware’s 2022 Walk for Autism, which affects approximately 1 in 44 children in the United States. Autism Delaware is dedicated to supporting the needs of people with autism and their families across the state of Delaware. The Walk for Autism will help raise awareness and support the wonderful work of Autism Delaware that helps all people with autism learn, grow and live full lives as included and valued members of their communities,” said Narpinder Malhi, MD, ChristianaCare Child Psychiatry Clinic and Multidisciplinary Autism Program medical director.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer is sponsoring the walk through the county’s Community Development Fund. “We are excited to support the annual Walk for Autism,” said Meyer. “The organization provides critical valuable resources to families affected by autism; from children to adults, Autism Delaware has been there throughout the years.”
Steve Masterson, a longtime friend of Artie Kempner, one of the founders of Autism Delaware and coordinating director of NASCAR on Fox and NFL on Fox, was involved in the agency’s NASCAR fundraising initiatives for many years. But when his grandson, 3-year-old Cash, was diagnosed on the spectrum, his involvement became more personal.
“Blessed with friends like Artie, we are educating ourselves about autism, and … we recognize that we are very fortunate to have the resources to get Cash the assistance he needs,” said Masterson. “As a family, we’ve decided to jump in and help raise awareness and funds to help those impacted by autism. We want to do our part on a large scale, and if not us, then who should do this for autism?” The Mastersons are closing in on an ambitious $5,000 fundraising goal for Team Cash.
While the top-level walk sponsors contribute the highest dollar amounts, the event would not be possible without the many partner sponsors whose steadfast support is as important as their financial contribution. Representing every area of Delaware, these sponsors include Berkshire Hathaway/PenFed Realty, Hertrich Toyota of Milford, Lorne and Sharon Solway, USI Insurance Services, Central Delaware Speech-Language Pathology, Nickle Electrical Companies, Cirillo Bros. Inc, Swift Pools and Delaware City Refining Company.
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that includes impairment in social interaction and social communication. Individuals with ASD also exhibit repetitive patterns of behavior or interest that limit everyday functioning. An intellectual or language impairment is also possible. All these symptoms will first appear in early childhood. In December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the prevalence of autism in children at one in 44, up significantly from the previous estimate of one in 54.
As a 501c3 nonprofit, Autism Delaware’s mission is to help people and families affected by ASD. With offices in Lewes and Newark, Autism Delaware serves the entire state. Fundraising events such as the walk provide the income needed to make critical programs a reality. For more, go to autismdelaware.org.