On Saturday, May 15, Hopewell Junction-based BluePath Service Dogs will host its fifth annual walkathon – this year virtually. The event, which begins with an online kickoff at 10 a.m., will raise funds to support BluePath’s mission of providing the autistic with service dogs, offering them safety, companionship and opportunities for independence.
As with many nonprofits, BluePath Service Dog’s mission continues despite the uncertain times. The walkathon, which is open to all ages, will help ensure that the organization’s important work extends beyond the pandemic. Following the online kickoff, participants will head out to walk in their own communities and at their own pace – all while doing their part to support children with autism and their families.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 54 children born today will develop an autism spectrum disorder. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.
For the Millman family, Clancy, a Yellow Labrador Retriever from BluePath, has helped their 14-year-old son Alex lead a safer, fuller life. Shortly after being paired with Clancy, Alex ran from his car in a crowded parking lot. “Without being given a command, Clancy dropped down and stopped Alex as a car came speeding down the row,” said Alex’s mom, Sandi Millman. “We are indebted to BluePath for keeping our son safe.”
Each BluePath dog comes with thousands of hours of training from dedicated volunteers and professional staff. While the cost to prepare these incredible dogs is upwards of $40,000, BluePath provides its service dogs – and intensive, follow-up support – free of charge. Reduced stress, improved sleeping routines and more meaningful social interactions can allow families to feel a renewed sense of hope and empowerment.
Millman continued: “Clancy is an amazing dog who helps our family go out and do all the things that families do, including our regular walks around the neighborhood. These are ordinary experiences, yet they would be impossible without an autism service dog by our sides. We are so very grateful for our ordinary days…. For us, they are truly extraordinary.”
“Elopement is a critical safety issue for individuals with autism,” added BluePath President and CEO Jody Sandler. “Our service dogs act as an anchor for children who wander and dramatically reduce danger. The virtual walkathon may look a little different than in years past, but it is every bit as essential – and great family fun. We had an amazing turnout last year and look forward to another fantastic event. I encourage all those interested in BluePath’s life-changing mission to get involved.”
Walkathon registration, which includes a BluePath T-shirt, is $30 for the first participant and $20 for additional participants. To learn more or register, visit bluepathservicedogs.org/events. Sponsorship opportunities are also still available. For more, contact Erica Stanzione at 914-804-4023 or email@example.com.
— Georgette Gouveia