As a professional pastry chef, Dory Matwijkow likely would appreciate these ingredients for a successful fund-raising event:
- 1 heart full of love for your son
- Strong passion for a cause
- Deep commitment to making a project succeed
- Dozens of family members and friends who want to support you
Dory combined these ingredients into her own recipe and baked up a tremendously successful fund-raising walk, doubling the amount of money she thought she would collect and earning rave reviews for her creation.
Dory has a son named Austin who has autism and lives in a home in Jamestown that is operated by The Resource Center. Each September, The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, Inc., hold an event called Step Up for Autism. Dory, some family members and friends make the long drive from her home on Grand Island to Jamestown to take part in the event every year. Calling themselves Austin’s Angels, Dory and crew raise money for the event and participate in the 1.5-mile walk. Dory also puts her baking skills to use and donates some items for the Step Up for Autism sweets auction, and on two occasions one of her items has received the highest bid.
To say Dory is invested in Step Up for Autism would be an understatement. So when the pandemic caused us to cancel this year’s in-person Step Up for Autism and replace it with a virtual walk, Dory was disappointed. But she wasn’t about to let COVID stop her from supporting the event. On August 5, she posted on Facebook that since the traditional Step Up for Autism walk was canceled, she was going to organize her own walk, and she asked her Facebook friends if anyone was interested in attending.
The response was overwhelming, with 70 people commenting in support of her idea and offering to help.
Backed by such strong support, Dory set about making her walk a reality. She reserved space at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island and started recruiting walkers, mindful of New York State’s limitations on large gatherings of people. She began soliciting donations of gift baskets. And she put her oven to use, baking items for a bake sale.
Dory’s Step Up for Autism walk took place Sunday, September 27. She had a great turnout, with dozens of people coming for the walk and many others turning out just for the basket auction and bake sale. She was overwhelmed by the success of her event.
“Wow! Just `wow’ Is all I can say! I am speechless! What a day! A great day,” Dory said. “I am proud, humbled and can’t believe It went as flawless as it did! We had 46 great baskets, and the bake sale was amazing! I am so thankful to my family who worked so hard on this with me, and my friends who are such great supporters of my mission.”
When she first made plans to hold her own Step Up for Autism walk, she hoped to raise $5,000. As the event drew closer, she raised her goal to $7,000. Following the event, Dory realized that through registration fees, gift baskets and the bake sale, she had raised $8,783. She then pledged to round that up to $9,000, but later updated that figure.
“Because of some very generous people in my inner circle, we are going to round it up to a $10,000 donation,” Dory said.
Proceeds from Dory’s Step Up for Autism walk will support The Resource Center’s SUCCESS Program, which teaches socialization skills to youths on the autism spectrum.
Officials at The Resource Center and Filling the Gap were overjoyed at the success of Dory’s event and grateful she has been such a strong supporter of Step Up for Autism.
“We are extremely fortunate that Dory has been a big part of our Step Up for Autism event over the years. Given the circumstances for our events in 2020, this donation will be put to great use,” said Victoria Trass Bardo, Development and Events Manager. “Dory’s enthusiasm is infectious, so there is no doubt that all of her friends and family were eager to participate with her, either through donations and/or attending her event. We only wish we were able to congratulate and celebrate with her in person.”
The creation of the autism walk was just Dory’s latest effort to give back and support others. For many years she and her family have participated in The Summit Center’s Autism Walk. Last fall she started baking sweets to raise money for Austin’s Angels, and this spring she branched out to also bake dog biscuits. Her treats (for humans and canines) have been popular, allowing her to donate the proceeds. In April she donated $1,000 to The Resource Center in memory of her father, Glenn Smith, who had died the previous month.
Click here if you’d like to make a donation in support of Dory’s Step Up for Autism walk.
We thank Dory Matwijkow and her supporters for “stepping up” and finding a way to continue the tradition of Step Up for Autism in the face of the pandemic!