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I want to share with you one of my family’s favorite events to attend every year: The Autism Walk & Expo of the Hudson Valley. We look forward to heading to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds every April for this event! This walk event is super family friendly and it is the biggest annual fundraising event for our local chapter of the Autism Society of America.

I confess this event was one of my favorites before I had kids. I was a board member and the marketing chair for Autism Society Hudson Valley for nearly seven years. I left when I was pregnant with my twins (five years ago, yikes!). But, my heart never let go!

set up

For seven years in a row I helped with all the behind the scenes support to make this event happen. I handled print media, gathered donations, procured the entertainment, stuffed goody bags and set up signs the night before. I loved every second of it. But, you know one thing I didn’t get to do each of those years? Actually participate in the awesome activities happening at the event!

My kids weren’t even a year old when we took them to their first walk event. I remember pushing our giant red, double stroller through the grass and taking everything in for the first time. It is truly an amazing event where families with children living with autism can find support. No one is judging you if your kid can’t be near the loud DJ, or they are having a meltdown because they are over stimulated. In fact, almost every parent attending understands “over stimulated.”

Drums at walk

I may be a tad biased with my past experience, but let me tell you why this is my families favorite event of the year. Not only do my kids have a great time banging on drums, petting the Llamas and jumping in the big bouncy houses, but we get to help a lot of local families who are in need of services and advocacy.

Ribbon cutting

The walk portion of this event is the most important part. Most of the funds raised by registration fees stay right here in the Hudson valley serving our local families. (A small portion goes toward autism research). To register as a team, or as an individual you can download registration form below, or stop by the registration tent upon entering the fairgrounds.

2.29.16 Walk Reg

Autism Society Hudson Valley provides grants for persons with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or a parent, a professional or caregiver working with a person with ASD. Grants can be used for a variety of reasons; including but not limited to, health & safety concerns, therapies, social skills classes or recreational activities. (These grants WILL NOT cover daily living expenses or household bills). For more details you can download the grant application form below. The Autism Society Hudson Valley also brings guest speakers and conferences locally for parents and educators.

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The Expo portion gathers local service agencies under one big info tent. This makes it convenient for parents to walk through and pick up information about an agency, or talk with an employee representative. To keep the kiddos entertained there is usually a bouncy house, sand art, drum time, karate demonstrations and a little fair with activities. Specific activities may change each year, but there is usually plenty of fun for everyone!

This event takes place rain or shine, so be prepared to bring appropriate gear. You can always duck into the grand stands if necessary. The walk happens along the track and strollers are allowed, but no skate boards, bikes or scooters. Food for purchase is available, but breakfast is typically served in the morning at no charge and a few snacks and bottled water is available too. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. You won’t want to miss the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony and countdown to walk start! Walk begins at 10:30 a.m. It is a 1-2 mile walk around the track.

As you take your lap around the track, be sure to take a moment and look behind you. Experiencing that sea of compassionate walkers and volunteers moving together to make a positive change for families living with autism is breath taking. I guarantee you will need a Kleenex!

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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