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Written for Jenn Podall
2021 Autism Speaks Walk Kickoff

Hello, I’m Jenn Podoll, Vice President, Constituent Events at Autism Speaks.


There’s an old saying that goes, if you want to learn about a person’s situation, walk a mile in their shoes.


If you could walk in the shoes of someone who has autism, you’d learn that they have plenty to say, but may have difficulty communicating.


You’d learn that they might need a lot of structure and they can be uncomfortable in new or unfamiliar situations.


You’d learn that they might take different approaches to learning and problem-solving.  


If you walked a mile in their shoes, you’d learn that people with autism can achieve many goals and have meaningful relationships …


… they just have to take a different path to get there. 


Today I’d like to talk to you about a different kind of walking – participating in the 2021 Autism Speaks Walk to raise money for our mission.


This important event raises most of the funds we’ll need this year to achieve our goals.


Then I’m going to introduce our National Walk Director, Jennifer Sorenson, who will tell you about the exciting Walk activities for 2021 and the many ways you can join us for this wonderful event. 


Most people watching this video have something in common: Autism has affected your life.


You might have a family member who has autism.


You could be a loyal supporter of Autism Speaks and the work we do.


Maybe you’re a caregiver for someone with autism.


Or a healthcare provider who wants to learn more about it.


It’s safe to assume that we all hope for advances in research that will help people with autism reach their highest potential.


That’s why I’m happy to announce the kickoff of the 2021 Autism Speaks Walk.   


It’s not only the biggest fundraising event of the year for Autism Speaks – it’s the biggest autism fundraiser in the world!


Chances are, you know someone who has autism. About 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.


Autism Speaks is dedicated to providing innovative research and crucial lifelong support for people across the spectrum and their families.


To do this we:


Provide funds for research into causes and interventions for autism spectrum disorder.


Work to increase understanding, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism.


Provide early childhood screening.


And help young people who have autism make the transition to adulthood.  


Our organization has raised and contributed nearly $150 million to scientific research.


To say that the Walk is a big deal for Autism Speaks doesn’t come close to describing it. It’s the largest source of financial support for our entire mission.


To give you an idea of how big this event is, it has raised a total of $287 million for Autism Speaks since the first Walk in 2005.


Every year, 160,000 people who care about autism participate in the Walk, in communities large and small, all across the country.  


We hope you will support Autism Speaks Walk 2021. Whether you have autism, love someone who does, or are looking to support a diverse, accepting, and kind community – you’re invited!


Now, I’m going to turn it over to Jennifer Sorenson, our National Walk Director. Jenn, it’s all yours!



Thanks, Jenn. We’ve all been through a lot in the past year. COVID-19 has made it difficult – in some cases, impossible – to do our jobs, to socialize with friends, and to be as close to our families as we want to be.


But one thing hasn’t changed and will never change. That’s the need for people with autism to enjoy a unique type of support, education, and love on the way to fulfilling lives.  


And there’s another thing that I know hasn’t changed – the desire of so many people to help … like you.  


For this year’s walk, you can choose to participate in person or remotely.


Either way, you’ll be celebrating those across the country who have autism and raising money that will enable Autism Speaks to continue its important mission. 


Let me say a few words about the different ways you can participate in the Autism Speaks Walk and how you can register and start raising money for people with autism.  


Autism Speaks is hosting Walk events tailored to fit the needs of every community.


Each Walk will have its own look and feel, chosen by those who know what works best for their hometown.


If you choose to join us in person, you’ll celebrate with Walk on Wheels, an interactive and fun car parade.


In Walk on Wheels events, you can (safely) interact with autism service providers in your community and hear from our top supporters and sponsors. 


If participating remotely is best for you, we host events virtually – in the past year, we’ve become pretty good at that.


You can join one of our 17 virtual events and walk at your home with family and friends.


Any way that works for you is the right way to participate – whether it’s on wheels, on foot or online.


Thank you for watching this video. We ask you to participate in the Autism Speaks Walk so we can have the resources we need to fulfill our mission in 2021. 


Join the Walk – in your car, online or in the comfort of your home – to show your support and change the world for autistic people and their families.


It will be an event full of positive energy, excitement and connection.


Visit to register for a Walk event in your area and start fundraising today.


On behalf of the Autism Speaks team and people in our country affected by autism spectrum disorders – thank you!

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