On Saturday, May 14, hundreds of walkers helped to better the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ sixth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser raised more than $185,000 to further BluePath’s mission to provide autism service dogs, offering safety, companionship, and opportunities for independence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 44 children born today will develop an autism spectrum disorder. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.
“Wesley received his autism diagnosis just before turning two,” shared Kate Petersen, whose five-year-old son was matched with BluePath service dog Reba. “The first couple years were an extreme challenge. Wesley’s lack of communication left us all frustrated to the point of tears several times a day. A cough, sneeze or even laugh left him dysregulated, sobbing, or in full meltdown, and sometimes it could last for hours.”
When Wesley was nearly hit after suddenly running into the road during a family walk, the Petersens knew they needed immediate assistance.
“That’s where BluePath Reba came in,” shared Kate. “She is sweet and soulful and intuitive. All business when she is working and a dedicated party girl in her off hours. Reba brings such incredible hope for the future – that we will be able to enjoy a walk on a beautiful day without fear or tragedy, that Wesley can enjoy his favorite things with the grounding presence of his service dog, and that we can finally spend time as a family out in the world, experiencing all life has to offer with this beautiful little dog at Wesley’s side.”
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, ongoing follow up support – completely 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.
BluePath’s sixth annual walkathon had support from the following sponsors:
Presenting: The Neva and Howard Goldstein Family Charitable Fund, Team Michelangelo
Platinum: Croton Lions Club, The Goldfarb Makkar and Brown Family
Gold: Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726, Amalgamated Transit Union 726 Family Fund, AvalonBay Communities, Elite Carriers, PCSB Bank, Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, Quinn Law Firm, Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees, Inc., Team Ali Fairhurst
Silver: Animal Specialty Center, Bedford Hills Lions Club, Bedford PBA, The Bugeya Family, City of Rye Police Association, Cruze and the Frango Family, C.W.A. Local 1180, G.S. Bounce, Guardian Veterinary Specialists, Kolmar Americas Inc., Lions Club of Yorktown, Mesa’s Marrathoners, NYS Court Officers Association, Peekskill Rotary Club, Shrub Oak International School, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Volz Auto Group, When Chaos Strikes
“BluePath dogs provide safety and freedom, opening the door to new possibilities for the whole family to thrive,” noted the nonprofit’s President and CEO Jody Sandler. “This year’s walkathon was an incredible celebration of our growing community and our most successful fundraising event to date. We are so grateful for this year’s supporters; together we are making a positive and lasting difference in so many lives.”
BluePath Service Dogs, Inc. is located at 8 Country Club Road in Hopewell Junction. They can be reached at 845-377-0477 or by visiting www.bluepathservicedogs.org. For the latest news and updates, follow @BluePathServiceDogs on Facebook and @BluePathDogs on Instagram.
About BluePath Service Dogs, Inc.
BluePath Service Dogs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2016 to provide autism service dogs, offering safety, companionship, and opportunities for independence. The organization transforms lives by providing families with expanded opportunities to unlock life’s potential. BluePath receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers to fulfill its mission. For more information, visit www.bluepathservicedogs.org. Follow BluePath on Facebook at www.facebook.org/bluepathservicedogs.
Left to right: Dan Zarro (of Ossining) and BluePath President & CEO Jody Sandler (of Hopewell Junction) cut the ribbon to kick off BluePath Service Dogs’ sixth annual walkathon at FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights. Photo credit: Kara Cerilli.