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Major fundraiser planned for Annapolis Valley autism group

Kilby Ettinger leading 2018 Walk for Autism in the Annapolis Valley.
Kilby Ettinger leading 2018 Walk for Autism in the Annapolis Valley. - Contributed

‘We really can’t function without it’

Organizers are preparing for the tenth annual Walk for Autism in the Annapolis Valley. The event is scheduled to take place June 22, at the Credit Union Center, located at 1490 Westwood St. in Kingston.

Sandy Wing is the chapter navigator for Autism Nova Scotia and the walk coordinator. In a recent interview, she said the event in the Kingston is one of 10 walks planned across the province to raise funds for autism programming.

The goal is to raise $25,000 in the Valley through sponsors, including Cash and Carry Rona, K-Rock and Royal LePage, Greenwood. She said the public can also make pledges online at walkthewalkforautism.ca by choosing the Kingston location. As well, she hopes to have 300 participants who have collected pledges walk a two-kilometre course around the streets of Kingston.

“It is our major fundraiser. So, the money we raise that day helps us continue doing programming and operate our autism centre in Kingston. We really can’t function without it,” Wing said.

“I think people think that we are heavily government funded. But we receive minimal government funding. And that’s why the fundraising is so important to us.”

Wing said the chapter also hopes to achieve a long-term goal of opening a second location in the eastern end of the Valley.

“We serve families quite well in this area. But our territory is from Windsor to Annapolis Royal, and we find especially to the east, there are lots of families that can’t make it down here to our centre for our programmes and information sessions,” she said.

The Valley chapter offers a range of programs and facilities including a gym, sensory room and a kitchen. As well there are social programs for children, teens and adults, preschool groups, and info sessions for families and professionals. It also provides adapted swimming and horseback riding programs and summer day camps throughout the Valley for all ages.

Danielle Hall-Sawler and her family are looking forward to the Walk for Autism. It will be the third fundraiser they have participated in. In an interview, she said she hopes the public will support the work of the Autism Centre. Her 10-year-old son, MacKenzie, attends a weekly social gathering for children with autism and their families.

“They make everything accessible and affordable. They do a lot for my son. They make sure he has everything he needs when he goes there on Wednesday night. A bunch of kids who all have autism hang out and do crafts, play computer games or go on outings,” she said.

“We hope people will support the Autism Centre so more kids can go.”

Wing said the upcoming event will be a fun day for everyone as well as a major fundraiser.

“It’s actually our tenth anniversary. We want to turn it into a celebration and a chance for families to get together. Sometimes it’s the only chance for families to see each other in the course of a year,” she said.

There will be free refreshments and a barbecue, as well as an inflatable obstacle course, raffles, arts and crafts and the opportunity to ride a mechanical horse provided by Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding.

She also said the event is open to the public, not just families with members who have autism.

“Just come out and enjoy the day with us and get to know people with autism. We welcome everybody.”

Victor Henwood and Tommy Nyenhuis show their support at the 2018 Walk for Autism.
Victor Henwood and Tommy Nyenhuis show their support at the 2018 Walk for Autism.

 

THE DAY'S SCHEDULE:

  • Registration: Starts at 9:30 a.m. - Please have your pledge sheets completely filled out and, if possible, enter all pledges online.
  • Games/Activities: 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Announcements/Prizes: 10:30 a.m.
  • Walk: 11-11:30 a.m.
  • BBQ: 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m.
  • More information about the Walk for Autism and the programs offered by the Valley Chapter is available at: AnnapolisValley@autismns.ca walkthewalkforautism.ca, click on Kingston location email: annapolisvalley@autismns.ca or call 902-242-2019

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