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Two Men Complete First-Ever Walk Across the Country for Autism
Date:11/11/2008

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two men from Worcester, Massachusetts have completed the first-ever walk across the United States to raise awareness and funding to help families affected by autism. Robert Williams and Bobby Genese began their historic walk on May 13th in San Francisco, CA. Their six-month journey ended at the White House on Election Day.

The men walked for the National Autism Association (NAA) in memory of Elias Tembenis, the son of their long-time friends, Harry and Gina Tembenis of Worcester. Elias suffered a severe vaccine reaction at the age of four months, and was later diagnosed with a seizure disorder and autism. With the help of his family, doctors and a team of therapists and teachers, Elias made great strides toward recovery from his autism diagnosis, but on November 17th of last year, a massive seizure took his life at the age of seven. Gina Tembenis shares Elias's story in Jenny McCarthy's latest best-selling book, Mother Warriors.

"Robert and Bobby are two of the most generous people we've ever encountered," said Lori McIlwain, Vice Chairperson of NAA. "They left behind their families, friends and the comforts of home for six months in an incredible gesture of compassion and support for families affected by autism. Along the way, they've inspired thousands of people across the nation."

Over $30,000 has been raised through the Elias Tembenis Walk for Autism. The funds will be used to provide direct financial support for families through NAA's Helping Hand program. A mini-walk will be held during NAA's National Autism Conference later this week in Fort Lauderdale, led by Harry Tembenis and Bobby Genese.

The conference will also feature a keynote speech given by U.S. Congressman Dave Weldon. Other speakers include world-renowned experts on autism covering cutting-edge environmental research, treatment, dietary and behavioral interventions, legal and legislative strategies, estate planning, autism safety, marital support, and more.

NAA's National Autism Conference is sponsored by CARE Clinics, Autism Speaks, Hansen's Natural Beverages, Project Lifesaver and LoJack. For more information on the conference, or to register online, visit http://www.nationalautismconference.org.

For more information on the Elias Tembenis Walk for Autism, visit http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/eliaswalk.

Contact:

Wendy Fournier, NAA (Portsmouth, RI) 401.835.5828

Lori McIlwain, NAA (Cary, NC) 919.741.1646


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SOURCE National Autism Association
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