*Disclaimer: This post will talk about Autism Speaks. There are people in the autism community that do not believe/like/contribute to this organization. These are my personal thoughts in this post regarding today’s event in Washington, DC.
Today we piled into the car once again to drive into our nation’s capital to participate in the annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks.
For the past four years, we have participated. This year had special meaning as we were also walking in memory of one of B’s former schoolmates, who died in a tragic accident.
Personally speaking, while it’s a haul and it’s so early to actually be OUT of the house, we do enjoy the event.
I watched B dance around like a happy fool to the crowd doing Zumba. We brought some buses so he could occupy himself before the Walk. He delighted crowds everywhere with his bomb diggity moves. We even got a cameraman to videotape him at the start line. He really enjoyed talking and interacting with everyone. The AXD’s (the Panhellenic sorority’s designated philanthropy is Autism Speaks) adored him.
For the first time he WALKED the entire length on his own with minimal complaint. That alone makes it a success. 🙂 We spoke about the different buildings and the historical aspect of the buildings. One of his best buds (and one of my dear friends) came along, again, to support us.
It was not all sunshine, unicorns, rainbows and kumbayas though. As we walked the path towards the finish line, I saw protestors. Many did not see them – there were approximately 10,000 people walking versus the small group (I counted 15 but I’m unsure if that is the correct number) – but I saw them. I knew some of you from other events.
This is where I start to ramble about my opinion, which may or may not make sense but work with me here:
I greatly respect those that came out to protest. It’s your right to not agree with Autism Speaks. It’s your right to protest and make yourself be heard. I know it’s hard to stand up for something you do believe, or do not believe, in. And for that alone I applaud you. Thank you for being respectful for our right to assemble just as I acknowledged yours.
But to me – Autism Speaks is not the huge mega evil organization that some view. I know specific people, who are dedicated to their kids, their siblings, their nieces/nephews, their friend’s kids. They are the people I have gotten to know – and their passion for their belief is great.
We have never been treated like a statistic, a tragedy. We have not felt dehumanized. Far from it, actually. However, I know others do not share that opinion.
I know some will speak about overhead and salaries and little towards individual’s needs. After a few years in grant development in federal government and even more in marketing and event management, I have a skewed opinion. Yes, of course we would want people to make little (or even nothing) to advance their organization’s goal. Sadly, this is not realistic, and especially not in high cost living areas (I’m looking at you, DC). So, yes, people get paid. Yes, there are sometimes events where there is schmoozing, networking and the dance to get the money, the vote, or the pledge. There is always a plan, lots of calls and pleas. And it’s not just Autism Speaks – you might as well protest almost every major not-for-profit organization.
I wish there were other ways, and if you are reading this and have a suggestion, by all means I want to read it. Like I said, I have a skewed opinion, just from working and learning how “things work”. And keep voicing dissent – you know the cliche about squeaky wheels. We have to talk and walk and dance and sing about our opinions.
Their mission does not line up with some people. That’s cool – there’s never an organization that pleases everyone. I don’t think we disagree that we want the best for future generations, however. And I think in the end that matters more than what some may think.