Article by Gabriella Taylor ’16:
Kellenberg Cheerleading took part in the Autism Speaks Walk at Jones Beach for the first time this year. The cheerleaders came out in force to support Autism Speaks, an organization which raises money to support research geared towards Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The walk is just one of many ways that Autism Speaks reaches out to advocate for individuals suffering from autism.
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. According to the Autism Speaks website, ASD and autism are both general terms for, “a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.”
Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism. It also increases awareness of ASD and advocates for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $525 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America
With the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin still in the air, it was a cold, cloudy and very windy Sunday morning on October 4th. Freshman, JV, and Varsity Cheerleaders, along with the coaches, met at Kellenberg Memorial High School at 7:30 AM. The cheerleaders came dressed in their Kellenberg warm ups and all wore a blue cheer bow high in our hair to show support and raise awareness about Autism. As we all got on the bus, we were cold and tired; but as soon as we pulled up to Jones Beach the energy of the thousands of people inspired us and made us want to get off the bus. We crossed the start line and began our 3-mile journey. Many people there were walking for a family member, a friend or just to support the Autism Speaks organization.
The walk took place on the boardwalk of Jones Beach. Cheerleaders were asked to give a donation to support the cause and walk. Varsity captain Julia Stackpole said, “We don’t just walk because we have to, we do it because we choose to.” Varsity cheerleader Eleni Muratore added, “I’m so proud to take part in this amazing experience.”
Our team’s participation in the walk supports the goal to change the future for all who struggle with an autism spectrum disorder. According to the Jones Beach website, over 15,000 participants came to Jones Beach – Field 5 and walked united for the Long Island autism community. To date, they have raised $727,468. This number just keeps on growing.
I am so thankful and honored to be a part of Kellenberg Cheerleading that supports the mission of Autism Speaks to change the future for all those who are affected by autism.