Over $90,000 Raised at Autism Alliance of Michigan’s 1st Annual Autism Hero Family Walk

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – On Sunday, June 28th, Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) held its 1st annual Autism Hero Family Walk at the Detroit Zoo. Over 1200 people attended this inaugural event in order to raise funds and awareness for autism in Michigan.

“The original goal for this event was to raise $30,000 and have 300 people join us for the walk,” said Lauren Lewis, Event Coordinator, Autism Alliance of Michigan. “We are absolutely blown away by the 1200 people who attended and the $90,000 raised. It is a testament to the support within the autism community, and we look forward to putting on more community events throughout the year.”

Funds raised during the Autism Hero Family Walk will provide critical financial support that allows AAoM to offer its programs and services to individuals and families living with autism throughout the state of Michigan.

Shannon Murphy from 95.5's Mojo in the Morning with her Autism Hero, Jackson Dingess from Brownstown Twp.
Shannon Murphy from 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning with her Autism Hero, Jackson Dingess from Brownstown Twp. (Autism Alliance of Michigan)

Event Recap

Emcees Shannon Murphy and Calvin Gee from 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning kicked off the opening ceremony with some warm up drills. After AAoM’s CEO Dr. Colleen Allen and Detroit Zoo’s COO Gerry VanAcker spoke about AAoM’s current programming and the Zoo’s dedication to being an autism-friendly destination, AAoM honored the Superhero of the day, Chase Tonnies. Chase’s twin brother, Carter, has autism and Chase launched his own fundraiser at his elementary school in support of the AAoM walk, raising over $200.  As part of his campaign, Chase presented in front of his school educating his peers on autism and the importance of supporting a cause.

After the one-mile walk through the Detroit Zoo, 4th Wall Theater Company took the stage for an interactive performance full of singing, dancing and acting. Amyzing Faces & Fun was on hand for face painting, Warner’s Corners Toys provided a sensory tent full of activities for families, and there were superheroes roaming around ready for photo ops.

A special thanks to our partners and sponsors: Integrated Manufacturing and Assembly, Suburban Collection, Hour Detroit, Detroit Labs, Accenture, Gordon Brodeur Racing, Fathead, Centria Healthcare, Warner’s Corner Toys, 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning, and Qualigence International.

Reggie Smith of Dearborn Heights decked out as Spiderman in Gordon Brodeur's race car, which participates in races all over Michigan. Gordon donated one of his sponsorships to AAoM.
Reggie Smith of Dearborn Heights decked out as Spiderman in Gordon Brodeur’s race car, which participates in races all over Michigan. Gordon donated one of his sponsorships to AAoM. (Autism Alliance of Michigan)

About Autism Alliance of Michigan

The mission of the Autism Alliance of Michigan is to lead unprecedented collaboration that will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their loved ones through education, comprehensive services, coordinated advocacy, dedication to community, and navigation.

AAoM honored the Superhero of the day, Chase Tonnies, of  Farmington Hills. (Pictured here with Shannon Murphy and Calvin Gee ) 2
AAoM honored the Superhero of the day, Chase Tonnies, of Farmington Hills. Pictured here with Shannon Murphy and Calvin Gee (Autism Alliance of Michigan)

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