This is the fifth "walk" for the Walter family. Last year was the first time we did it without Leslie. And probably I was a little too scattered to give the walk all my attention, but I think I can be forgiven. This year, I have a redesigned logo, a tshirt sponsor in place, and a little bit...just enough of emotional space that I can provide a bit more focus.
Leslie loved the walk. I know it delighted her how people came out of the woodwork online and in person to support little Lily. Autism was Leslie's cause. I know that it probably seems like maybe cancer could or should have been her cause, but Leslie was never comfortable with that. She never wanted to wear pink. She never wanted to broadcast her breast cancer. Supporting Lily was her cause. This walk was and is the "event" that the Walter family used to express that support.
Last year so many people came out of that woodwork. I think because Leslie had just passed. I think it helped to have someplace to direct your pain. I think it helped to feel like YOU were helping.
I suspect this year a few less people will make it out. We've all had a year to get used to it, after all. But I hope I'm wrong. I hope you'll come out and support us as we walk.
Please read below and consider joining us on May 14th as we walk for Lily. Leslie will be walking alongside all of us in spirit.
It's that time of year once more. I'm inviting friends and family to participate in Highmark's, "Walk for a Healthy Community" with us again this year. "Just a Lil Team" will once again be marching for Autism Connection of PA (aka ABOARD). The beauty of the walk is that 100% of the donations go to the charity.
Four years ago around September, when this blog was newer and greener, I broadcast a plea for help to the autism community at large and asked this question, "To whom should I donate my money if I want it to benefit autistic people and their families and caregivers?" That post is >>HERE<<.
Anyone who was autistic said, "Don't give money to Autism Speaks". There were a lot of reasons, and most of them were good, but "don't give money to X" doesn't really help. If not them, then who? The consensus was, "give to someone who can help autistic people locally, or give to food banks or shelters", because the sad fact of life is that many autistic people not receiving supports or services are the people in the homeless shelters and benefiting from the food banks. I'm paraphrasing the masses (it was not a particularly well-commented blog post of mine, but linking from post to post by others who had covered the topic, that was the message I got). One local autistic adult mentioned ABOARD, (Now Autism Connection of PA). They had helped her personally. I had attended a couple workshops they had put together with my wife, and had previously donated to them. They're the folks who put together the Autism Friendly Santa Visit every year at the mall, (they did one for the Easter Bunny too, maybe you saw pictures of Lily on Facebook)
Since then we've gone to many of their sponsored events:
days at an indoor playground
Trips to see the Pirates play
Symposium (in the Spring)
Painting with a Twist
And these are just the things our family has attended. They've become our personal pet Autism Charity. We're forming a team again this year, "Just a Lil Walk Team", and using Lily as our rallying point. This is a cause that's important to her, or will be some day when she's able to take it up herself.
We'd love for you to join our team and walk with us on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at Stage AE on the North Shore in Pittsburgh, PA. (Registration is at 7:45 a.m., walks start at 9:00 and 9:15 a.m. if last year is any indication). OR...OR...you can sign up as a virtual walker. You don't have to be WITH us...to be with us. If that makes sense.
Here's the link: Just a Lil Walk Team Page. If you click that it should take you to the page. Register as a walker, donate, or register as a virtual walker. If you are walking with us, please get word to me what your t-shirt size is, so I can have enough shirts (and the right sizes) made. Like last year I'll be ordering those nice soft shirts everyone seems to like. Color to be determined...
OH! Just to clarify something. The Highmark page will ask you your tshirt size too. That's because if you donate (I think it's $50) you get a free Highmark shirt. When you click that size...I don't see it. That's for Highmark...not Just a Lil Walk Team. So...still need sizes regardless of whether you clicked that button when you registered.
I'll also link the event to the Just a Lil Blog Facebook page. I've set a goal of $3,000. I hope we beat it.
Lily and Emma and I will be down by the stadium at Stage AE on May 14th to walk. Whether we raise the $50 or $2500 or $10,000, we'll be there, and we'll have fun. And we'd love it if you could join us, or if you can't, if you could donate to the cause.
We have about three weeks to put together what we can sponsor/donation/team-wise so that I can get tshirts made for participants and make sure we get them in time for the walk. After about the first week of May, I won't be able to change the tshirt orders.
Just a Lil Walk Team (Jim, Leslie (in spirit), Emma and Lily)