BluePath Service Dogs Hosts Sixth Annual Walkathon on May 14

BluePath Penn has not only helped six-year-old Hudson reestablish his self-confidence and engage with others, he is also the boy’s best friend.

On Saturday, May 14, BluePath Service Dogs will host their sixth annual walkathon at FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights. The family-friendly fundraiser, held from 10:00am to 1:00pm, will raise funds in support of BluePath’s mission to provide autism service dogs, offering safety, companionship, and opportunities for independence.

The walkathon 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 and will have access to food, games, and all-day fun – rain or shine. Friendly dogs are welcome on leashes 6′ or shorter. Attendees can also meet BluePath dogs and learn more about how the nonprofit is creating a better world for children with autism.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 44 children born today will develop an autism spectrum disorder. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.

For the Bettencourt family, BluePath Penn has helped six-year-old Hudson lead a safer, fuller life.

“Penn gives Hudson the safety to go out and be himself,” said Hudson’s mom, Andrea Bettencourt. “Penn keeps him grounded, literally and figuratively, and has helped to reestablish Hudson’s self-confidence. He has provided a starting point for engaging with others and, maybe most importantly, has become Hudson’s best friend.”

Each BluePath dog comes with thousands of hours of training from dedicated volunteers and professional staff. While the cost to prepare these incredible dogs is upwards of $40,000, BluePath provides its service dogs – and intensive, ongoing follow up support – completely free of charge. Reduced stress, improved sleeping routines, and more meaningful social interactions can allow families to feel a renewed sense of hope and empowerment.

“Life before Penn joined our family, even pre-pandemic, was one of self-induced isolation,” Andrea shared. “Unsure of how Hudson might behave or react to even the simplest of errands, events, or occasions it was safest and easiest to stay home. Penn has opened up a world of opportunities and allowed us to start experiencing life. We can not only perform routine daily tasks, such as going to the grocery store or library, which seemed out of bounds before, but have even gone on our first vacation, visited the New York Aquarium, and the Bronx Zoo.”

“After two years of fundraising virtually, we are beyond excited to welcome supporters back in person for an unforgettable day of fun, laughter and camaraderie,” said BluePath co-founder and Vice President of Development, Michelle Brier. “Last year, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states raised more than $120,000 to further our mission. We look forward to building on that momentum and encourage all those interested in BluePath’s life-changing work to get involved.”

Walkathon registration includes a BluePath event t-shirt. Adult walkers are $30; children under 13 years old are $20. Visit www.bluepathservicedogs.org to learn more or register. Those unable to participate in person may 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.

BluePath Service Dogs, Inc. is located at 8 Country Club Road in Hopewell Junction. They can be reached at 845-377-0477 or by visiting www.bluepathservicedogs.org. For the latest news and updates, follow @BluePathServiceDogs on Facebook and @BluePathDogs on Instagram.

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