Registration is open for the 15th annual Walk for Autism fundraiser, which will take place Saturday, Oct. 16, at Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, and Saturday, Oct. 23, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.
While the walks have always occurred during Autism Awareness Month in April, event organizers hope the October dates will be after coronavirus has loosened its grip on Delaware and state-ordered restrictions have eased. Nevertheless, the walk will comply with all COVID-related restrictions that may still be in place in October, including capacity limits and staggered start times to reduce crowd size.
A virtual walk option will also be available for those who prefer not to take part in an in-person event.
“The annual Walk for Autism it is as much a reunion for families affected by autism as it is a fundraiser,” said David Woods, director of development. “By moving the event to October, we have a better chance of offering our families the opportunity to come together in community – something they have not be able to do for some time.”
Being cooped up in isolation for more than a year has been especially difficult for people in the autism community. “We want this walk to be a celebration for them,” said Woods. “By opening registration now, when many pandemic-related restrictions remain in place, we give our families something to look forward to and eight months in which to raise awareness, recruit teams, and build momentum.”
The other reason for opening registration so far in advance is that families affected by autism need support now. Autism Delaware is still very much at work and has been throughout the pandemic, providing services and resources to families.
The fact that the walk is more than a half-year away has not stopped businesses statewide from stepping up to sponsor the event, and Autism Delaware continues to recruit organizations to take advantage of the many available sponsorship opportunities.
Hertrich Toyota of Milford, part of the Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships, is the exclusive program sponsor. Its support will fund the costs of a printed event program that will be available to any individual or company that wishes to purchase an ad or publish a shout-out to a walk team.
Other top-level supporters include Bellmoor Inn & Spa of Rehoboth Beach and Nickle Electrical Companies of Newark and Georgetown.