Over 12,000 people with autism and related disorders and their families are expected to turn out at Manhattanville College in New York today to participate in a two-mile walk around campus. The event, in its eight year, is organized by the Westchester-Fairfield chapter of Autism Speaks, one of the country's largest autism advocacy groups. But there is one expected guest who won't blend into the large crowd. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin plans to walk along with her sister, Heather Bruce. Bruce's son Karcher has autism. A spokesperson for Autism Speaks says they are "fortunate" to have the Governor show up for the cause.
During the 2008 election , when Governor Palin ran as the Vice Presidential nominee on the GOP's presidential ticket, she pledged her support for families with special needs,
"Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House."
Even though she didn't make it to the White House, the Governor, whose youngest son has Down Syndrome, has upheld her promise by donating her time to special needs causes such as the Special Olympics. Palin's spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton said about the Autism walk,
The Governor and her family have a few other plans for their time spent in New York. On Saturday, more than 20,000 people came out to see Governor Palin in Auburn, New York, where she helped local officials celebrate Founder's Day and raise money for a museum dedicated to the life of William Seward. Seward was the Secretary of State who helped make Alaska the 49th state. Later this evening, she will receive an award from the Independent Group Home Living Foundation on Long Island. The non-profit group provides services and support for people with developmental disabilities.
"This is just a fantastic opportunity to give back to another community and another state that has been good to her."