Walking the Walk
Right now at my job at Autism Speaks I’ve been looking for personal “Why I Walk” stories during our Walk Now for Autism Speaks events. Each year, there are over 100 of these walks that happen around the United States and Canada. This Sunday marks the seventh anniversary of my walking for the Autism Speaks North Central Walk in Cranford New Jersey.
I started walking as a college freshman because I was in desperate need of community service hours. What I thought was going to end up being a one-day thing then turned into a much bigger commitment. I realized it was a way to help people with autism such as myself and to become an active part of the autism community involved in making changes for our population.
I began to think about my participation in the walks this way because of the people I met that first day. There were just so many families and individuals who shared similar stories to mine. That’s when I started seeing the impact that could be made by simply getting involved. Since that day I’ve constantly seen the walks evolve just as I have matured as an adult. When I was a Resident Assistant during my sophomore year, the walk was one of the first events I encouraged the students in my dorm to participate in. When I was a junior, the walk was a service event I went to with my fraternity. In my senior year, the walk was a fellowship for a club I started in college called Student Disability Awareness. Then for two years in graduate school, the walk was something I participated in to be close to my new walk family along with my fraternity brothers. Along the way, this one walk led to building community and friendships in another two walks in New Jersey.
The walks have been something that has led to one of the biggest and greatest communities I could ever ask for in my life. All of those people I walked with over the past six years became like family to me. Now as I get ready for Sunday—this will be my second year getting to speak at the walk as well—I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to become involved in the first place. I look forward to walking every year and I can catch up with “my family” once again.