The 11th annual Miami-Dade Walk Now For Autism Speaks fundraising event will be taking place on February 27 at JC Bermudez Park in Doral.
The walks take place worldwide and all profits benefit Autism Speaks, an organization that provides funding for research on autism, raises awareness about the disorder and helps the families of those who are affected by it.
The walk, representing Miami-Dade, works in a way where there are different teams; each team that walks has an opportunity to raise or donate a certain amount of money.
So far the University of Miami team, headed by the Future Educators Association Honors Society on campus, has raised $319, which is far beyond the $100 goal they had originally set.
“This is all about joining together for a common goal,” said a very enthusiastic Anita Meinbach, a professor at the School of Education who is the faculty advisor for F.E.A. “Wouldn’t it be great if more people got involved?”
So far there are 13 members in the F.E.A. team Web site. Meinbach, however, says that there could be many more members and donations.
“F.E.A. created a team name on the Walk Now for Autism’s website. Our team name is Team U.M. F.E.A,” said Laura Valdez, a senior who is currently president of F.E.A.
The Web site displays the number of members who have currently registered to walk, as well as any donations for Autism Speaks.
“Students can get involved in donating by going to the School of Education office and giving any donations to Marilyn De Narvaez at the front desk,” said Valdez. “The organization Autism Speaks has provided me with puzzle pieces to be sold to help fundraising. The puzzle pieces symbolize the missing pieces that are needed for extended research.”
The School of Education’s front office is located in the Merrick Building, Room 312.
This is the first year that the F.E.A. is involved. They say they’re hoping for a good turnout.
The walk does not require a donation and anyone with interest in the cause can walk. Support can also be shown by setting up a lemonade stand to raise money or signing up online even if you are unable to attend the walk.
“F.E.A. decided to get involved with the walk in order to make a difference and support the needs of individuals with autism,” said Valdez, “hopefully our fundraising efforts not only raise awareness about the increasing occurrence of autism but create funds for research to combat this disorder.”
The Miami-Dade walk has already raised over $250,000 for the annual event. Last year more than $570,000 was raised.
“Sophisticated, well-designed research studies are quite expensive,” said Dr. Alessandri, a psychology professor who has been involved with autism research through the past years. “There is still too little money devoted to autism research.”
Autism is a disorder that affects nearly all aspects of functioning including social and behavior skills. Also, a lot of those who suffer from Autism have co-existing conditions like seizure and anxiety disorders.
“No known cure exists, but important and sometimes effective treatments do help many children become more functional,” said Alessandri. “The beauty of Autism Speaks is that it has dedicated itself to funding important research and has shined a light on autism research like no other organization.”
JC Bermudez Park is located at 3000 NW 87th Avenue, Doral. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the walk starts at 10am.
For more information on how to get involved contact the organization directly at 787-897-4665. You can also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org.
To contact F.E.A. and get involved with the U.M. F.E.A. team, email UMFutureEducators@gmail.com.
This story is reprinted with the Hurricane’s permission.