The Mike Walk for NECC

A parent of a student is planning a 2,600 mile trek across the country to raise funds for the center for autism education and research

Above: Mike McKenna with his son Michael and family. This winter, McKenna will walk across America to support the Southborough based center that has supported his family. (images from fundraising page)

The parent of a longtime student at New England Center for Children is raising the stakes on his fundraising efforts for the Southborough institute. He’s planning to walk across the country.

His goal is to raise $150,000 and raise awareness of autism along the way.

According to NECC, McKenna’s plan is to fly out to California to start the 2,600 mile walk at the beginning of February:

The Mike WalkMike will walk 22 miles per day, taking two days off each week for rest. He spent the last year training and equipping himself with the knowledge to face the many long days and miles of heat, cold, fatigue, rain, and other unpredictable challenges of a cross-country walk. . .

The Walk will start at Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA and follow an eastern route through the nine states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and ending in Jacksonville, Florida.

The fundraising page shares the following quote from McKenna:

“This is an opportunity to give back to NECC for the love and professional support provided to my son and my family,” said McKenna. “I want to put a face to autism. I want people to know who my son is and humanize this condition. I want these kids to matter.”

According to the fundraising page, it’s not the first time that McKenna worked to raise funds for NECC:

In 2009, McKenna and his wife, Lori, began hosting The MIKE Golf Classic at the end of each summer, raising more than $700,000 for NECC. When COVID hit in 2020, preventing The MIKE Golf tournament from being held for the first time in 12 years, The MIKE transitioned from a golf tournament to a 100-mile walk along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a flat, safe trail that presented no COVID concerns and allowed those who wanted the opportunity to continue supporting NECC. McKenna and his son walked 25 miles each day for four consecutive days.

Mike McKenna’s son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. Michael became a student at NECC 16 years ago at the age of 4. In a video on the website (embedded below), the McKennas share their family’s story and the important role NECC has played.:

To support the fundraiser (or look for updates on his journey down the road), click here.

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