“We have a fantastic time,” Marino said. “We’re going to come out, it’s a fun time for the autism community to come together and celebrate. We’re prepared for over 20,000 people. We’ve got rides, bounce houses. We’ve got current Dolphins players, alumni Dolphins players, cheerleaders. We’re going to have live entertainment, a big stage with a lot of live entertainment. It’s really a fantastic time.
“We’ve also got an expo with local businesses and nonprofit corporate and a bunch of different vendors out there. It’s a great time for the community and it’s a great opportunity to get out there and raise some awareness and have a fantastic time.”
The 6th Annual Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Austism & Expo, brought to you by Walgreens and presented by Badia spices, will take place from 8 a.m. to noon.
The event last year attracted more than 20,000 supporters who participated to help raise autism acceptance and much-needed funds in support of local programs for children and young adults living with autism.
The DMF WalkAbout Autism & Expo has raised more than $2.6 million through the support of participants, donors, school, corporate and nonprofit teams and corporate sponsors. Those corporate sponsors include Walgreens, Badia Spices, the Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium, Centerplate, Publix Super Markets, South Florida Ford, Greenspoon Marder Law, Chase, Panera Bread, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, Nova Southeastern University and Everglades Holiday Park, along with media partners Comcast, Clear Channel Outdoor, iHeartMedia, and Lifestyle Magazine. All proceeds raised stay in the South Florida Community.
“We are really looking forward to the sixth year of the Dan Marino Foundation’s WalkAbout Autism,” said Dan Marino, Chairman of the Dan Marino Foundation. “This event brings together the autism community for a day of celebration. And the funds raised from the event are important to advancing the Foundation’s work, supporting innovative programs that provide pathways to independence for children, teens and young adults with autism, emphasizing their differing abilities, not disabilities.”
The Dan Marino Foundation was established in 1992 by Dan and Claire Marino, motivated by their experiences in raising Michael, who is diagnosed with autism. The Foundation’s mission is “empowering individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.” Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $55 million to create unique and impactful initiatives in the community. Among these first-of-their-kind initiatives are the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Outpatient Center, the Marino Autism Research Institute, Marino Adapted Aquatics, Summer STEPS Employment Programs, Virtual Interactive Training Agent Program (VITA-DMF), and now Marino Campus.
“We started the Foundation when I was very young and I’ve kind of watched it grow as I’ve grown into adulthood now and even as I continue to grow as a person further on into the future it’ll grow with me,” Michael Marino said. “It really is amazing that we can be one of the leaders in the forefront of trying to really help people in the autism community and whether it’s children, adults and anybody else.
“When we first started (the WalkAbout & Expo), we weren’t even really sure what to expect. We just knew we had a fantastic venue and we had a lot of fun stuff lined up for the people going. What was funny was the first year we actually almost ran out of food and water. So many people showed up. We got such a great response. Now where we are, being six years in, we’re going to have a fantastic time. We’re completely prepared. We’re expecting tons of people from all areas of South Florida.”
The DMF WalkAbout Autism & Expo kicks off with a family-friendly festival-infused atmosphere, followed by a walk led by members of the autism community who gather to promote awareness for this worthy cause. After the walk participants will experience the resource Expo with more than 30 exhibitors and vendors, musical entertainment from local school bands, as well as DJ 1Tre.
Participants will have the opportunity to meet Miami Dolphins players, alumni, and Cheerleaders. Kids will enjoy the children’s corner, which will be well equipped with Dolphins Football Fun Skills Course, fun rides, games and giveaways from Walgreens. The Publix Hospitality Village will offer delicious food and beverage sampling compliments of Badia Spices, PepsiCo, CenterPlate and The Produce Connection.
All proceeds raised through this event stay in our local community and benefit The Dan Marino Foundation, Marino Campus, as well as participating Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties Schools, and nonprofit autism service providers.
“It’s been amazing,” Michael Marino said. “I still can’t believe it’s been six years. It feels like just the other day it was our first year doing it over at Sun Life.
“When I step on the stage every year and you get to look down at the sea of people and everybody is having a fantastic time and we’re all there for a good cause, to help people in the autistic community to really get some good work done, it’s truly amazing.”
For information, visit dmfwalkaboutautism.org, danmarinofoundation.org, marinocampus.org or vitadmf.org.