Reflections from an Answers for Autism Walk Volunteer
By McKenzie Shevlot
National American Miss Indiana 2012
Answers for Autism is an organization that has stolen my heart over the past few years. Celebrating the 12th annual Answers for Autism walk, I ventured out for a day of service. The Answers for Autism walk invites families from all over Indiana to join together in a walk to promote and provide awareness for children with autism. The day was filled with fun activities, music entertainment and delicious food. This year I was asked to pass out balloons for the balloon release, start off the walk and pass out medals to the walk participants. I served around the event, handing out hundreds of balloons and it warmed my heart to see many people offering to donate money in honor of a balloon. Once the balloons were distributed, it was time for the annual balloon release! This is a beautiful moment to experience and especially meaningful to those families who have a family member or friend impacted by autism. It begins with a poem about how the balloons represent children with autism and how we must set the balloons free and let them soar to the sky and find their destiny and dreams. A song then plays as everyone counts to three then releases their balloons. The walk then officially begins. As people made their way around the walking path, several other volunteers and myself were waiting at the end to pass out medals to all the children and family members. Seeing the children’s’ face when I honored them with a medal was one of the most wonderful moments I experienced. Their smile alone warmed my heart and gives me hope and determination to continue working towards my goal as an occupational therapist. I’m thrilled to have been apart of the walk and look forward to volunteer again next year.