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Two participants decked out and ready to go. (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
Though this was only the first of these walks in the Okanagan, organizers were excited about the possibilities.
Kelowna's inaugural Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada was held in Rhapsody Plaza on Saturday. Participants walked from the dolphin sculpture through Waterfront Park to the sails sculpture and back.
Though the event has had seven years already in Vancouver, this was the Okanagan's first walk. The event is clearly about fundraising for autism research and local services, but it equally seems to focus on bringing together those affected by autism.
The start line set up and ready to go. (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
Autism Speaks Canada's National Walk and Community Events Director Melanie Haydon came all the way from Toronto to help with the event. She says that one of the most exciting parts of the walks is that it brings out and supports family services in the community. Families who have a member with autism can then learn about these services that are available to them.
She called the walk a family event, and said that participants could “come out with your mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, and best friend and walk together”.
The day clearly was a time for coming together, as a group came all the way from Vancouver to check out the event. Louise Witt from the ABA Support Network in Vancouver came to find out what kinds of things parents in Kelowna are doing for autistic children. The ABA Support Network is a parent group that educates and promotes science-based treatment for autism. According to Witt, Kelowna's community is “obviously looking very promising.”
Rocky hanging out with children in the kid's zone. (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
The walk's fundraising goal was $25,000, and Haydon said she believed that they would raise very close to that amount. Kelowna's walk was also the first to have bibs for walkers so that participants could write why they're walking or whom they're walking for. There were also activities for children, a live band, and lots of snacks and refreshments.
By the smiling faces and the cheer in the air, clearly Haydon said it best when she said, “Today is a day of celebration.”