SPARTA, NJ – Having raised $7,552 this year, the Sparta School District was once again the top fundraiser for Autism NJ.  This is a repeat of last year’s efforts which raised $5,775, the top fundraisers in that year as well.  This distinction is especially notable with the knowledge that Sparta has held the top spot in a crowd of other organizations in the state that include corporations and larger school districts.

The fundraising efforts in Sparta schools began in 2007.  That year over $5000 was raised.  It was so much that it was split, with half of the donation going to Autism NJ and the other half going to Autism Speaks. 

In the years following Autism NJ has been the designated recipient, according to the local organizers, “because it is a state organization that supports our students and their families here in Sparta.”

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Over the years the special education teachers and assistants in the Self-Contained classrooms at the Alpine, Helen Morgan and Mohawk Avenue schools have organized and coordinated the events. 

Since 2007, $41,322.69 has been raised for Autism.  A breakdown of the funds raised each year:

  • 2007: $5,445
  • 2008: $5,502
  • 2009: $4,097
  • 2010: $3,612
  • 2011: $4,486.45
  • 2012: $4,853.14
  • 2013: $5,775
  • 2014: $7,552.10

Over the past seven years, the Walk-a-thon has been the primary event for raising funds and awareness.  Other events have included Autism Awareness T-shirt and tote bag sales, Staff Dress Down Day, Staff Breakfast, Zumba-thon, after school kids Hip Hop dance class, dining out nights with local restaurants donating a portion of sales.  Most recently, the Mohawk Avenue School has held a Dance-a-thon for the past two years. 

There has been much support from the community as well.  Local businesses making donations include:

  • Greene Beans Cafe,
  • Mohawk Bagel,
  • Augie’s Brooklyn Bagels and Deli
  • Sparta Diner,
  • Rita's,
  • Villa Capri,
  • Casa Mia, and
  • Cafe Pierrot

Music has been provided for the Walk-a-thon by Sparta residents Orlando Rogriguez of Oh! Studios and Sparta High School student Andrew Altieri. 

Kristi Diklich has been a part of the fundraising efforts since the beginning.  She said, "Having been teaching in Sparta for the last 14 years, I wanted to share what an amazing and committed staff Sparta Schools has in promoting autism awareness, as well as an incredibly supportive community."

The mission statement found on the Autism NJ website is “Autism New Jersey is a nonprofit agency committed to ensuring safe and fulfilling lives for individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them. Through awareness, credible information, education, and public policy initiatives, Autism New Jersey leads the way to lifelong individualized services provided with skill and compassion. We recognize the autism community's many contributions to society and work to enhance their resilience, abilities and quality of life.”