The fifth annual Walk Now For Autism Speaks event was held yesterday, Oct. 10 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Many sports and entertainment events are held at the Palace, a big arena which is home to the NBA Detroit Pistons, but today they were hosting us. I felt compelled to walk because for 30 years, there has been nothing like this for autism. PJ and I, along with the PJ Foundation Team and many other teams walked for autism awareness, research and information to promote understanding.
We left home about 8:am and rain was pouring down. Thank goodness my daughter, Stephanie was driving. Stephanie and my other daughter, Cindy were there to help me, as they have done throughout the years in my autism odyssey with PJ. I was wondering if we would be able to complete the walk if the rain did not stop. The instructions were that we would walk, rain or shine, but I wasn’t sure how that would work out if the rain did not stop.
By the time we got to the Palace, the rain was slowing down, so I became more hopeful and grateful. Our Honorary Walk Chairperson was Jim Madaus, our First Forecast Weatherman on WWJ TV. Mr Madaus has been there every year and is the only TV personality to consistently support the walk. He, too, was concerned about the weather because it was raining as he was driving in, also. I got a chance to speak with him and thank him for his support and for getting the rain to stop.
I was part of a community resource fair with information about services and support to people with autism. We were in a row of individual tents and I was able to promote and sell my book and to share information about the PJ Foundation. There was nothing like that all in one place 30 years ago. There were not enough people with autism or enough people with power to put on such an event. It took Suzanne Wright to form Autism Speaks to get the ball rolling.
There were family activities and plenty of food. The Pump it Up Company had brightly colored inflatable slides and other inflatable activities for the children. We had characters in costume who circulated through the crowd, including a big giraffe (who PJ liked) a blue smurf and a green frog. The beautiful, gold, Detroit Piston Championship Trophies were on display on a table inside the Palace. That is the closest I have been to a championship trophy. I was truly impressed.
I was also impressed to meet Rick Mahorn, one of the championship winning Pistons when they were known as the “bad boys”. He was there to lend his support and to inform us of future plans for people with autism. PJ is 6’2″ and weighs 200 pounds and Mahorn made him look small. Of course we took a picture. (If I were more computer literate, I would share it with you).
The event seemed to be a success. They said that attendance last year was 1,500 and they were hoping for 2,000 this year. I don’t know if the rain kept some people away, but it looked to me as if there were as many people this year as last. The weather turned out to be great by 11:am when the walk started and we needed no coats or hats. The walk route around the Palace was dry and those of us with and without autism walked together.
Imagine, 2,000 of us walking together for a common cause. How different it is from the isolation that I felt for 20 years. I am thankful that at my age, I can still be a part of events like this. I know that one day, I will have to go back to “Sittin” On The Sidelines”, but I will have documented my thoughts and feelings about autism. For now, I can’t sit and do nothing about autism. One of the things that I can do is to help those who are trying to help us.
Until next time; May you have Peace, Love, and Prosperity in your life.