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ASU Business and Finance team supports autism research

October 30, 2013

More than a dozen ASU Business and Finance employees converged early Sunday morning in support of people affected by autism. The Sparky’s Business walk team convened at Tempe Beach Park for the 8th annual Arizona Walk Now for Autism Speaks event.

The 5K-walk/run was a collaboration between two nonprofit organizations: Arizona-based Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and Autism Speaks.

Tracy Grunig, director of University Audit and Advisory Services and Sparky’s Business team member, had many reasons to lace up her athletic shoes and walk the 5K.

“I walked to show support for my family members who are meeting the challenges presented by autism; I walked to show solidarity with my fellow ASU staff who are involved with SARCC; and I walked to celebrate the progress individuals are making in their day-to-day struggle to overcome the challenges of autism,” Grunig said. “SARCC personifies the hope, strength and resourcefulness of the human spirit.”

According to a SARRC correspondence sent to attendees following the event, it’s estimated that 20,000 people were in attendance and that more than $1.5 million was raised for autism research and local programs.

Barbara Hoskins was a Sparky’s Business walk team member and helped contribute to the team’s $1,365 collective donation. An administrative assistant for the ASU Police Department, Hoskins said that she was happy to bring a buddy and join her colleagues in a non-related work activity.

“I felt it was a worthwhile cause and worth the time and effort to raise funds for research to find out why there is an increase in cases of autism,” she said.

Hoskins’ colleague, Lisa Frace, is a SARRC board member and associate vice president of Planning and Budget at ASU. Frace brought the walk idea to Business and Finance employees during a quarterly leadership summit held in late September by Morgan Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer.   

Olsen, who ran during the event, encouraged Business and Finance employees to elect how they best would like to show their support. Potential participants were notified via email that they could choose to run, walk, raise funds or volunteer their time to assist event-related activities. Abundant volunteer opportunities included registration, set-up, tear-down, T-shirt distribution or water-station management – to name a few.

“This was a fantastic event to participate in that advocates for people affected by autism,” Olsen said. “This year’s walk-team endeavor underlines one of the New American University tenets, which is to be socially embedded. I am hopeful that the future community-service projects our group participates in will attract even more colleagues to help foster awareness about charitable and social causes.”