Sunday’s walk-based community event in Stratford is a vital fundraiser for the local chapter of Autism Ontario, but it raises something else just as important – morale.
Event spokesperson Doris Barkley said the upcoming Walk for Autism brings together people from across Perth and Huron counties dealing with the day-to-day challenges of the condition.
“(It) gets families meeting each other and talking and not feeling so isolated because, when you have a child with autism, you can often feel very isolated in your own world,” she said Wednesday. “It gets people out and meeting each other, so it’s a very important event.”
This year’s event begins with registration at 10:30 a.m. in Upper Queen’s Park, followed by the at-your-own-pace jaunt along the shores of the Avon River at 11 a.m.
“Walk as far or as little as you can around the river,” she said. “Then we provide a free lunch.”
Domino’s Pizza is supplying the food while Kim Souch, a family-friendly entertainer from St. Marys – and a founding member of the local chapter – takes the stage.
“She’s a wonderful musician and gets all the children involved and they love it,” said Barkley, herself a long-serving executive member for the Perth and Huron chapter.
Sunday marks the 12th annual local walk and continues to be the non-profit organization’s main fundraiser each year. Between 75 and 100 people typically take part, raising somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.
“Depending on the year,” Barkley said.
Families and friends are generally the main donors, but there are some outside sources, too.
“Some people just on their way to the (Stratford) Festival (for a matinee) will pop by and donate, which is lovely,” she said.
Money raised supports local programs such as therapy, personal care, and group outings to the bowling alley or the movies.
“Often children can’t go, say, to the movie theatre because they make too much noise or they’re rocking and people aren’t kind,” she said. “So we’ll get the movie theatre on our own in the morning when no one’s there.”
For more information or to make a donation, email email@example.com. The walk is the same day and general location as Stratford’s Terry Fox Run, but the two events are separate.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Walk for Autism Stratford
WHEN: Sunday; registration begins at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Upper Queen’s Park