Walkathon Raises Funds for Life-Changing Service Dogs


BluePath is gearing up for its third annual walkathon fundraiser, to be held on Saturday, May 18 at FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights. The event raises funds in support of BluePath\’s mission to provide autism service dogs, offering safety, companionship and opportunities for independence.

The family-friendly fundraiser, held from 10:00am to 2:00pm, is open to all ages and begins in Lot 4 of FDR State Park. Walkers can choose between a 1.7 mile or 3-mile loop. Kids will be entertained with a variety of activities including a bouncy house, lawn games, face painting and costumed characters. Friendly dogs are welcome on leashes 6\’ or shorter.

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, with 1 in 59 children receiving a diagnosis. BluePath dogs and ongoing professional follow up support are provided free of charge, ensuring that finances are not a barrier to receiving a life-changing service dog.

“Many children with autism exhibit bolting or wandering behaviors, which can make trips outside the home extremely frightening,” said BluePath Vice President and Co-Founder, Michelle Brier. “BluePath dogs are connected to children via a specially designed tether system and trained to ‘anchor’ in response to a child bolting. This immediate, emotionless reaction keeps the child safe – and often helps to reduce or eliminate the bolting behavior.”

BluePath dogs significantly reduce parents’ safety concerns and help children to lead fuller lives. Reduced stress, improved sleeping routines, and more meaningful social interactions can allow families to feel a renewed sense of hope and empowerment.

Nancy Hughes recently received BluePath service dog Benni for her son, Matthew.  Matthew is highly impacted by autism and was prone to bolting into dangerous situations.  Life without a service dog was becoming increasingly difficult, often meaning the family had to adopt a “divide and conquer” strategy or miss out on community activities.

“Benni came into our lives just a few short weeks ago and he instantly has made a positive impact on our family,” said Hughes.  “Matthew loves holding onto Benni versus having us hold onto him.  We see the pride on his face as they walk together through the world.  If Matt could speak, we are certain he would say thank you for his increased independence.  His brother Danny is thankful for a new best friend, and my husband and I are grateful that Benni keeps Matt safe while profoundly improving all of our lives.”

“We believe the human canine bond is uniquely powerful and possesses few limitations,” said Brier.  “A well-trained service dog makes an enormous difference in the life of an individual with a disability – an impact that becomes exponential as an entire family experiences freedom and reconnects with their community.  We are grateful to the many supporters who make it possible for us to fulfill our mission.”

BluePath’s third annual walkathon has gained major support from many sponsors including:

Presenting Sponsor: Croton Lions Club

Platinum Sponsor: Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Gold: CLG Construction, Elite Carriers, The Neva and Howard Goldstein Family Charitable Fund, Suzanne Hatfield Philanthropy Fund, Team Michelangelo
Silver: 3 Up 3 Down Organization, Au Pair in America, City of Rye Police Association, G.S. Bounce, NexGard / Heartgard, Peekskill Rotary Club, Shrub Oak International School, State Farm – Ken Lemenze, Volz Auto Group
Table: Animal Specialty Center, Decker Tool Rental, Guardian Veterinary Specialists, Hudson Highlands Veterinary Medical Group, Middletown Veterinary Hospital, PepsiCo, Putnam County Savings Bank, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, The Westchester Bank

Walkathon registration includes a BluePath event t-shirt. Adult walkers are $30; children under 13 years old are $20. Visit www.bluepathservicedogs.org/walkathon to learn more or register. Those unable to participate on May 18 also have the option to support walkers with an online donation or become a virtual walker with a personalized fundraising page. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; for more information, contact Erica Stanzione at 914-804-4023 or erica.stanzione@bluepathservicedogs.org.

About BluePath Service Dogs, Inc.

BluePath Service Dogs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2016 to provide autism service dogs, offering safety, companionship and opportunities for independence. The organization transforms lives by providing families with expanded opportunities to unlock life’s potential. BluePath dogs are provided free of charge.  The organization receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers to fulfill its mission. For more information, visit www.bluepathservicedogs.org. Follow BluePath on Facebook at www.facebook.org/bluepathservicedogs or on Instagram at @BluePathDogs.

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