Under normal circumstances, the title would say that the walkabout was hosted in Sun Life Stadium rather than near it, but due to the renovations currently being done to the stadium, a change of plans was required.
Luckily, the change of venue didn't stop the Dan Marino Foundation from putting together and organizing the incredibly impressive event that was the sixth annual Autism Walkabout and Expo in the Lot 17 parking lot next to the stadium.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is a great event, I enjoy doing it." said Hall of Famer and former Dolphins QB Dan Marino. "It's the help of a lot of people, volunteers, everybody that's involved, I wanna thank them."
One of those people who were involved was former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, who Marino credited for originally giving him the idea six years ago, and Ireland - along with his family - have been in attendance every year the walkabout has taken place, even after his departure from the Miami Dolphins front office.
"As a family that has been affected with kids with special needs and autism, it means the world to us," said Ireland, who has two autistic daughters. "We're extremely passionate about helping other families that are affected with autism or disabilities. It's a great honor to be asked back here."
Once the opening ceremonies were completed, with all of the sponsors getting a shout out and several people who were touched by the event - including some prominent Florida politicians - getting a chance to speak, Marino cut the cermonial tape and the walkabout officially begun.
Children, teens and adults from different corporations, schools and all walks of life lined up as far as the eye could see and walked around the parking lot as bands played and food trucks lined up to feed the hungry participants. There were rides to be enjoyed, obstacle courses and even a truck for the kids who didn't feel like expending too much energy and just wanted to play some videogames.
But of course, the goal of the event was to raise money and to teach those who were participating about autism and what it;s all about, which is why there were several booths set up that showed ways autism could be dealt with. One of those booths was called The Behavior Station, whose goal was to disseminate the science of behavior analysis and has been a part of the walk for two years.
"The Behavior Station is a resource that's primarily online and we also like to participate in the community like at the Dan Marino walk," said Tiffany Kilby, who is a board certified behavior analyst as well as the Founder of the Behavior Station. "It (behavior analysis) is currently the only scientifically validated intervention for people with autism. So since I have family members with autism, it really hits close to my heart, and so that's how this all started."
And the Behavior Station was just one of several different vendors that was out there teaching about autism and how to deal with it. Along with them, the various activities, the bands supplying the music and the veritable army of Dolphins alumni and current players signing autographs, the event managed to raise over $500,000 dollars for the cause, and it all stays in South Florida.
Half a million. Not a bad day's work.
Autism is a very real issue in today's society, and it's up to people like us to follow the lead of a man who was not only a leader on the field, but also off it in Dan Marino. We can walk, we can donate money, but we need to take a much more active role if we are to make a difference in not only South Florida, but the world as well.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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