Over 1,000 individuals gathered for The Walk for a Lifetime in Verona Park on May 3, raising over $100,000 in support of The Children’s Institute (TCI) which runs two schools and a center for individuals on the autism spectrum and with related disabilities.

For the third year in a row, a growing number of individuals of all ages walked to raise funds for The Children’s Institute (TCI). This year’s Walk for a Lifetime was the most successful to date, with over $106,000 raised in support of TCI’s programs and services. The Walk for a Lifetime website continues to accept donations through June. Over 1,000 walkers, including 64 teams, were in high spirits as they strolled scenic Verona Park as the largest group ever to participate in the event. The festive fund-raiser also included a DJ, vendors selling a variety of items, a 50/50 raffle, tricky tray, and a host of free children’s activities.

TCI parent Patrice Wiss addressed the crowd at the beginning of the walk, “…after what seemed like a very long struggle, we landed at TCI for an interview and tour.  We were immediately struck by the children we saw.  They were happy.  They were doing.  They were trying. They were learning and they were full of confidence and pride.  The staff spoke to them with kindness and respect.  There was gym, and art, and flowers, and children were dancing in the music room… it felt like we had finally found a place for Bailey.  Thank you for coming, for raising funds, and your generous donations.  Thank you for showing all these exceptional students that you believe in them.  Without your support and events like this, TCI and all they do for these students would not be possible.”

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“We are so thankful for the community’s support and investment in our children and adults. TCI provides cutting-edge educational, therapeutic, and vocational services to children, youth, and adults with autism spectrum disorder. The funds raised will help us continue to provide the best and most innovative services possible.  This innovation is vital in helping our children and adults maximize their potential and become productive and contributing members of their communities,” stated TCI Executive Director/Superintendent Dr. Bruce Ettinger.

With one in 45 children diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, NJ now has the highest rate of autism in the nation.  As the number of individuals diagnosed continues to climb and children who are now diagnosed grow to adulthood, the need for increased services is critical.  Programs for adults are particularly important to ensure that there are opportunities for continued growth after leaving formal education.  To learn more about the programs and services offered at The Children’s Institute, please visit www.tcischool.org. 

About The Children’s Institute (TCI)

For more than 50 years, TCI has been a pioneer in serving individuals with special learning needs. Today, TCI includes two non-profit schools, approved by the New Jersey State Board of Education, which serve children from ages 3-21 on the autism spectrum and with related disabilities, and The Center for Independence, a program for adults over 21, approved by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities and the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. TCI is committed to developing the academic, social, behavioral, communication, life and career skills of children, young adults, and adults on the autism spectrum.