tropAs we announced in our last issue, 2015 marks the first time we decided as a company to dedicate to supporting one cause for an entire year, and we’re proud to say that we recently kicked off our involvement in autism awareness by taking part in the tenth-annual Walk Now For Autism Speaks Tampa Bay event, which did more than just raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for autism research.

On April 11, an estimated crowd of 8,500 people came out to Tropicana Field in downtown St. Petersburg to support autism awareness with a half-mile walk around the stadium, followed by tons of family-friendly entertainment on the field under the dome. Although the total has not been made official and was still had been raised at this year’s event, says Katy Formella, senior manager of field development for Autism Speaks, an international autism research and advocacy organization.

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“The tenth annual Walk Now event was an exceptional show of community support,” Formella says. “We received substantial support from the local corporate community, including new partnerships with Outback Steakhouse and Raymond James. And, the Tampa Bay Rays support and commitment to the cause made this year a home run!” In fact, injured Rays closer Jake McGee assisted with some of the festivities at this year’s Walk.

New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News publisher Gary Nager and some of our employees were able to make it out to and take part in the event as members of our partner team Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay (BCOTB), which has a local office behind Sam’s Club (off S.R. 56) in Wesley Chapel. 

“It was amazing to see the Trop so filled with people,” Nager said. “There was just so much positive energy, it was really beautiful to see. The families touched by autism and the professionals who help those families really are all family, too.”

Teams and families touched by autism packed the field to enjoy face painting, bounce houses, people dressed up as Star Wars characters and comic book superheroes and live entertainment.

“This year’s Autism Walk was a tremendous success for the ‘BCOTB Behavior Bunch,’ thanks to the dedicated involvement from all of our employees and the community support from each of our sponsors,” says BCOTB chief operating officer Jerry Hurley. “(Our team) raised $11,087, making us the number one fund-raising Team at this year’s event.”

Stay tuned, as we continue to support and write about autism awareness throughout 2015.

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