It's not often that on an April morning in Pennsylvania, it's 60 degrees outside before 9AM... but that was exactly the case this past Saturday when my fiance Chris and I arrived at Walk Now for Autism in Allentown, PA. Others had been arriving since 8AM (some even camped out the night before), so parking was already scarce. We ended up having to park pretty far from the festivities, but it was a nice warm-up for the Walk! When we came over the hill towards the park, there were people everywhere -- every age, every gender, every race... and they were all smiling (minus one or two crying babies!). The sun was shining, and we were all ready to go!
We met up with Chris' work team, Koch's Kids, where they had a group picture taken, and then we wandered around for a bit. We picked up some free drinks and refreshments, including tiny pretzels shaped like puzzle pieces! We pet lots of cute dogs, and admired the other teams and families all around us. This year's Miss Pennsylvania sang the National Anthem, and then Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers appeared on top of the bridge over the starting line and we all counted down to the beginning of the Walk -- it was very exciting. We passed through a large balloon arch, where life-size Crayola crayons, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and some Storm Troopers greeted us as we began the Walk. Cheerleaders from a local school cheered everyone on as they walked. There was laughter filling the air, and a live band played back at the main grounds.
Those who stayed behind enjoyed the music, met local businesses and organizations, and watched as children jumped around in giant blow-ups! We walked along the Lehigh River with the sun at our backs and a cool breeze in the air. It was really lovely. We passed over a covered bridge, trekked up rocky hills, and watched as fishermen cast their lines into the river. There was a shortcut for those who wanted/needed one, but we were doing fine so Chris and I continued on. We paused only once to look at some bass calmly swimming in the river. Once we finished, Applebee's had tents set up to give everyone some free snacks (boneless chicken wings, pasta salad, and fresh veggies and fruit! yum!). We sat and enjoyed our treats as we reflected on what we had just accomplished. I am proud to say that I didn't really feel the burn until we had to go back up over the hill to our car! It was such a great day, and for such a great cause!
If you would like to make a donation, you can do so through August by visiting the Walk Now for Autism website. Additionally, the EtsyOWLs still have some amazing items available in the team shop! And I have decided to extend to 4/30 my offer of donating 10% of every purchase from my shop to the Walk! Check out my shop here! Thank you to our friends, family, and everyone for all of your support! Together we can all make a difference!
Still want to donate? Lehigh Valley's gearing up for their 2010 walk, info available here