GW Softball Walks for Autism

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Some walked for personal reasons.  Others walked to support a teammate.

George Washington's softball team walked together to become one of Autism Speak's top three donors for the organization's Walk Now event on Nov. 3, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  The Colonials raised $1,645 in donations for the Autism Speaks Walk that boasted over 9,000 participants.

Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization that works to increase awareness as well as raise funds for research and serve as a support service for individuals touched by autism.  Autism Speaks holds "Walk Now" events across the country throughout the year in an effort to engage supporters, inform the population about autism, and bring together individuals touched by the cause in addition to raising funds.

The softball team's participation in the walk was spearheaded by sophomore catcher Samantha Dos Santos.  The criminal justice major encouraged her teammates to show support and join a cause that touches her family.  With a cousin who has autism and a family member who has created a non-profit organization - Puzzle Peace Now, which supports the costs of raising children with special needs - Dos Santos felt strongly about participating in the walk as a team.

"With my personal experience with autism, I feel that there is little societal awareness about the impact it has. Every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with autism, and it will affect both the child and his or her family for the rest of their lives," said Dos Santos.

Head coach Stacey Schramm was recently notified by Autism Speaks that her squad was one of the top three fundraising teams in this year's D.C. walk.  While the coaching staff and administration were impressed by the team's efforts, no one was prouder than Dos Santos.

"I am so thrilled to be a part of GW softball, and so proud of my team for rallying behind the cause and raising an incredible $1,645," she said. "With every dollar raised more research can be conducted and programs are funded so a child has the opportunity to feel more comfortable in his or her own skin. Overall, the Autism Walk was a wonderful experience and we, as a team, feel extremely honored to be recognized by this amazing organization for our efforts."

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