Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Spontaneous Autism Awareness Walk in Canada--During Winter!

I wrote a post on January 26 about how quirky awareness stunts (Q.A.S.'s) can be used to promote awareness of certain causes. In that post, my main example was a basketball coach who went shoeless for an entire game. He wanted to inspire the donation of shoes to a charity so that people in Cameroon (Africa) could benefit from his action.

In that same post I pondered if a mere parent could do something quirkily similar to promote autism awareness and possibly raise funds for the cause. In the back of my mind I was thinking about taking a walk from one side of the lower penninsula of Michigan to another (from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron). My hypothetical walk would have been in the summer and well planned out to make sure arrangements were made for the care of my children. I would have also have gotten spousal approval. This would have taken me months to plan.

Well, someone went beyond my wildest expectations (it is highly unlikely he was inspired by my post). Upset with a lack of services for his 15-year-old son with autism, he walked out the door of his home on January 31 in Toronto and set off for a long winter walk in Canada (450 kilometers or about 280 miles). This man, Stefan Marinoiu, is forty nine years old and diabetic. One of his legs causes him some pain.

Marinoiu's walk seems to be spontaneous although it seems his walk was to end at the start of a hearing for an autism-related lawsuit. He did not tell anyone that he was to make the trek. He just left. His family, of course, worried about him--even after they figured out what he was up to. According to a recent online article in the Ottawa Citizen he's gone through a couple of blizzards.

His daughter, Lia Margarita Marinoiu, has been keeping tabs on him and is providing updates on his progress on her Facebook site. She also has posted at least one picture (sent too her from someone who used their mobile phone to capture the photo).

I haven't seen her Facebook site, but did find her announcements and updates on Autism Connects. According to her most recent update on Sunday, February 10, she was going to join him for the last leg of the walk from Welllington Avenue up onto Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, the Capitol of Canada, between 11:00 to 11:30 AM yesterday, Feb 11.

It looked like Mr. Marinoiu was going to arrive at the Capitol in time for a Autism Class Action Lawsuit at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. In a February 6 update Lia reported that Canadian Senator Jim Munson wanted to speak with her father.

Some words from an update from Ms. Marinouiu:

"I would also like to let everyone know that there is an Autism Class Action Lawsuit at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. I ENCOURAGE ALL parents (my mother will be attending) to attend this appeal hearing this upcoming monday february 11th!More information can be found on the discussion board!I would also like to let everyone know that my family was part of the Wynberg case that lost in 2004.The Provincial Government spent MILLIONS of dollars to fight the families of autistic children.Instead they could have used this money to assist these families.Taline Sagharian and I would appreciate all your support in this upcoming hearing!Keep me posted with any other information..."

My thoughts: I'll provide an update about the hearing sometime in the near future. Hopefully, I'll also get a map up on this post soon. I'd appreciate comments from Canadians with knowledge and/or opinions about this lawsuit. Opinions from everyone else about this awareness stunt are most welcome too--as always. Anyway, I suppose this guy makes my imagined summer trek across Michigan look pretty wimpy in comparison.

Feb 13 Update: I found her Facebook group and joined it. According to her Feb 12 post, her family received a lot of attention in Ottawa. Her words:

"Greetings from Ottawa!This morning, we held a press conference in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill. In attendace was: The Honourable Senator Jim Munson, MP Andy Scott, another MP(I cannot remember his name), and MP Mike Lake.The Press Conference went well. Senator Jim Munson & Andy Scott showed extreme support, along with Mr.Lake.We will be leaving tomorrow on the train #45 from Ottawa to Toronto. The Train is scheduled to arrive in Toronto at 4:35 PM.(VIA RAIL - Union Station)We would appreciate the attendance of the Toronto Autism Community and Supporters of my father as he arrives if possible. We want to make this homecoming for my father BIG, so that not only the Ottawa media will be the ones to pick up this story.THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH, but it is NOT OVER. There may be an election coming up soon, so please stay in this group to learn more about the 2% Strategy. I can't wait to come home!"


Marla said...

Very interesting. I don't think I would be too happy if my husband just up and began walking for that long. I need him way too much right here with us.

J said...

I completely understand what you are saying. I wonder if his action got him into some trouble with his wife. My husband says I'm not allowed to go for a long awareness walk like that until I'm 49. By that time both of the boys will be adults.

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