Walk Now for Autism Speaks raises millions for research

PASADENA, Calif.

Organizers say the walk educates parents on how to better serve their children with autism, and generates vital for funds.

About 60,000 people turned out for the event, sponsored by ABC7 and Autism Speaks. Attendees and organizers helped raise $1.632 million for the cause.

"This is the greatest day for our kids of the year," said Autism Speaks chairman Mark Woodsmall. "It's an excellent chance to come on down and be with family and friends, and just really work together towards moving towards awareness and meaningful research for our kids."

As a father to an autistic son, Woodsmall says the walk means a lot to him.

"It makes you feel comforted to know that there's a community that's builidng up around you. We're just so excited to be here with our family and friends, and every year they all come out and they support us," he said.

His daughter Sofia also attended the event, despite the early morning rain and chilly temperatures.

"I'm really happy that we're celebrating people with autism to make them feel good and to not make their world so different than everybody else's," said Sofia.

Eyewitness News Anchor Phillip Palmer served as the emcee at the event. ABC7's Ellen Leyva, Dallas Raines and Michelle Tuzee also joined the community dedicated to raising money to find a cure for autism.

Celebrity attendees included Holly Robinson Peete and Max Burkholder.

The walk began at 9 a.m.

ABC7 is a proud sponsor of the event.

An estimated 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with autism. That includes 1 of every 88 children.

For more information, visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/losangeles or call (323) 549-0500, ext. 74765.

Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.