June 25, 2012 -

More than $164,000 raised for autism research and family services

The inaugural Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Waterloo-Wellington was a fundraising success as almost $165,000 was raised in support of Autism Speaks Canada.  Approximately 1,750 walkers laced up their sneakers and hit the pavement at Waterloo Park yesterday to raise vital awareness and support for a disorder that is now being diagnosed in 1 out of every 88 children.  Walk Now for Autism Speaks is the signature fundraising event for the organization and is the fourth of six Walks that will be taking place across Canada this year.  Waterloo-Wellington is the last Walk of the spring season, which has already brought in $840,000.  

"We are thrilled with the enthusiasm that Waterloo-Wellington has shown from the moment we announced that we would bring our Walk Now event to the region," said Marc Murnaghan, Chair, Board of Directors for Autism Speaks Canada.  "Our Walk events are so important in achieving our mission to fund vital research and to support family services programs and initiatives.  To have Waterloo-Wellington beat their fundraising goal weeks before the Walk is so inspiring.  We want to thank all of the families, supporters, service providers and corporations that came together to raise awareness and funds for the autism community."

Corporate support for the event included Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us who are the national sponsors for the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events across Canada and Equitable Life of Canada as the presenting sponsor for Waterloo-Wellington. 

"Autism affects thousands of Canadian families, and Equitable Life is very proud to be partnering with Autism Speaks Canada to bring this important fundraising event to Waterloo-Wellington for the very first time," said Don Bisch, Director of Corporate Communications at Equitable Life of Canada. "We hope this Walk becomes a much-anticipated annual event here in the region for many years to come, and that it helps change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders."  

Funds raised at the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events support autism research and the Family Services Community Grants Program, which has directed more than $1 million in grants to support programs and services over the last two years.  In 2011, 26 grants totaling more than $569,000 were awarded to organizations and families in provinces right across Canada.

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders - autism spectrum disorders - caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children across North America is on the autism spectrum - a 600 percent increase in the past two decades.

About Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks Canada
Autism Speaks together with Autism Speaks Canada forms North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization.  It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Fund raising walks for Autism Speaks are held across North America including 6 sites in Canada.  Funds raised through walks and other events support Canadian autism research and community grants to agencies across Canada that work directly with children, youth and adults with autism. To learn more about Autism Speaks Canada, please visit www.autismspeaks.ca.  For more information on the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events, please visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.ca.  Information on Autism Speaks U.S can be found at www.autismspeaks.org

About Equitable Life of Canada
As one of Canada's largest mutual life insurance companies, Equitable Life is dedicated solely to its policyholders. The Company is focused on providing them with high-quality service, security and well-being. Since 1920, Canadians have been depending on Equitable Life for financial protection. The Company offers a wide selection of competitive Individual Life and Health, Group Life and Health, and Individual Savings and Retirement products to meet the needs of its large and growing base of participating policyholders.

Media relations contacts
Alicia Erz
Manager, Communications, Web & Social Media   
Autism Speaks Canada   

Don Bisch
Director, Corporate Communications