Uniting for Autism Awareness

By Rochelle Burnett, Toronto Police Service Published: 10:37 a.m. June 6, 2017

Service families united in bringing awareness to autism at the 13th annual Autism Speaks Canada walk on June 4.

A man in TPS uniform with his arm around a teenage boy
Chief Mark Saunders crosses the finish line with his son Graham

“This is one of my most favourite days of the year,” said Chief Mark Saunders, who was there with his wife, Stacey, and son, Graham, who was diagnosed with autism eight years ago. “First and foremost, I want to say thanks to Autism Speaks Canada for all the work that you do in raising awareness to reduce stigmatization and, more importantly, for hope because that’s what this is all about. When I look around the field right now, I see so many families that are here. United, we are one.”

This is the second year that Saunders and the Service fielded a team for the walk.

Autism Speaks Canada Walk
A group of people at a start/finish line
Chief Saunders among the Autism Speaks Canada supporters ready to start their walk

“Today was an amazing success, thanks to our partnership with Toronto Police,” said Autism Speaks Canada executive director Jill Farber. “The Chief and his team have done such a huge job this year to raise funds through bake sales, engaging McDonalds and just pure peer fundraising. They are a super-fantastic and awesome partnership and we are so proud to have them here today with us and every day.”

Sgt. Sheila Richardson of the Chief’s Office and Irene Breznica and Donna LaFontaine of Records Management were the principal organizers of the fundraisers.


A large group including men and women in TPS uniform
Service members supported the walk through raising money and escorting walkers through the city

Richardson said nearly $31,000 has been raised so far and more donations are still coming in.

Dandy, the Victim Services Toronto therapy dog, also took part in the walk.

To learn more or support the 2017 Autism Speaks Canada Walk,click here



A man in TPS uniform with a group taking a photo
Chief Saunders poses with walkers at the Autism Speaks Canada event
TPS crest watermark