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Awareness and funding for autism support to be raised at inaugural Emma’s Way Walk  

August 17, 2023   ·   0 Comments

Written By Paula Brown

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The opportunity to generate awareness and fundraise to support the neurodiverse community is coming to Orangeville this weekend.

The inaugural Emma’s Way Walk is being held on Saturday (Aug. 19) at Lions Park, starting at 10 a.m., with registration beginning at 9 a.m.

While the 2.5km walk is free to attend, organizers ask that attendees donate to Autism Ontario, which is a charitable organization that supports families and individuals with autism.

“Emma’s Way’s goal is to raise $1,000 to support Autism Ontario-Central West, which will come back into our community,” said Patti Thomas, walk organizer. 

Artsploration will have its art bus set up for kids and families to paint from 9 to 10 a.m., and face painting will also run with Fun Faces By Mel. There will also be a lemonade stand, photo booth, and other fun activities.

After the walk, a silent auction will occur from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Emma stands for Exceptional Minds March for Autism and is also the name of Thomas’s six-year-old daughter, who has autism and is a member of the BIPOC community. In 2021 she was the ambassador for the 2021 Autism Speaks Canada Walk on Wheels Parade in Orangeville.

Thomas said she’s been working on starting a foundation to support families who have children with autism for many years. Having a child with autism herself, she felt inspired to create Emma’s Way Walk. 

“Each year I wanted to do a fundraising event for a charity that provides support to the autistic community. So, this year I decided to choose Autism Ontario. Not only is it there 50-year anniversary but the work they do provides families with access to much needed supports and services,” Thomas explained.

She said she started the walk to help support people with autism and their families while encouraging acceptance, awareness, advocacy and positive change in the community. 

“Often parents come to me for support and questions about autism. I too was left with no knowledge and had to do a lot of research and searching for supports for my daughter in our community. I understand how scary it can be for any family when they get a diagnosis,” said Thomas. 

She noted her excitement for the inaugural event, which she hopes to hold annually, as it’s an excellent opportunity for the community to come together, advocate, and generate funds for a worthy cause. 

“Come on out [and] meet Emma. She is a six-year-old activist for the Autism and BIPOC community,” said Thomas.

She told the Citizen Emma would love to meet new friends and have as many people as possible walk alongside her to support Team Emma for the Emma’s Way Walk fundraiser.

Thomas said she’s grateful to Say it With Stacey and all the event’s sponsors for their generous donations to help make it successful and have a positive impact.



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