NORWICH — The Matthew's Auto 4th annual Walk-a-Thon is back on Saturday, and will be supporting a total of ten New York State nonprofits with up to $150,000 in donations.
All selected organizations focus on supporting children in some way. For the Chenango County area, Matthews Auto has selected the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center (CAC), based in Norwich, as a recipient of this year's donations due to their efforts to support child victims of crime and abuse through forensic interviewing, referrals to medical and mental health care, and advocacy.
"Our favored charities are children’s charities, and generally focusing on children’s health, children’s mental health, children’s emotional health, that kind of thing. Or anything that is violence or victim/abuse related," explained Matthews Auto Director of Marketing Kathy Breno.
"We actually did some research online and looked at a couple of different organizations up there, and when we saw the work that the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center was doing, it was a unanimous decision. We all thought that they were a great organization very worthy of our donation," she continued. "They made it an easy decision for us, because they just do really good stuff up there. Good work in the community."
The Walk-a-Thon will be donating up to $100,000 to their ten selected charities, based on how many miles registered individuals walk between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 1. For each mile walked, Matthews Auto will donate $10 to one or all of the ten charities, based on the participant's selection.
"Many people choose to divide up their donation between all ten children’s charities, but you don’t need to do that. You can go online and just register for that one particular charity and those dollars will go directly to them. 100 percent of them. There’s no admin fees, there’s nothing taken out. Every dime of what we raise goes directly to the charities," said Breno.
Registration is completely free and available online at MatthewsWalkathon.com.
"It’s quite the honor because only ten programs are chosen in the state," said CAC Program Coordinator Joanne Smith. "We ask that people make sure that when they ask for the charity of choice, you click on Chenango Child Advocacy Center,"
"Usually about 25 percent of the runners donate to all of the agencies. So we will get a certain portion of it already, basically as kind of the base, and then the rest of the money will be based on how many people we get walking that day," she added.
Smith said Matthews Ford, the Matthews Auto store in Norwich, has been supporting the organization in preparation for the event, and she hopes next year they will be able to host an in-person Walk-a-Thon in Norwich.
"They’re just supporting us. I had a lovely conversation, they were thrilled that we were chosen," she said. "Next year we would certainly like to do something in the park. You know, we’ll have our own kind of separate walk."
While Matthews Auto will be holding an in-person walk at the Vestal Rail Trail, beginning at Coal House on Stage Road in Vestal, for the duration of the event, attendance is not necessary to support the cause.
Participants will be asked to estimate how many miles they expect to walk on Saturday, and then are free to walk at home, in their city, on a hiking trail, or even at another event. At the end of the day, walkers can then report how many miles they walked in the 11-hour event period.
"This is all really on the honor system. We're not verifying that people actually walked the amount of miles that they walked. We expect that you’re going to be honest, and we expect that you’re going to do the right thing. It is a charity event so it’s all in good spirit," said Breno.
Additionally, participants can make donations directly to the event, and Matthews Auto will match donations up to $25,000, which could add up to $50,000 more in funds donated to New York State nonprofits.
Those who donate $50 or more will receive an aluminum water bottle, while supplies last. All registered participants can also head to their local Matthews Auto dealer to receive a free Walk-a-Thon T-shirt, while supplies last.
Matthews Auto currently has stores in 15 locations, and has always strived to support the communities in those areas. However, the annual Walk-a-Thon is truly special to Matthews Auto President Rob Matthews.
"We do work with veterans, and homeless, and education, and sports. But there's something special about this event," said Breno. "Rob Matthews, our president, this is his baby. This is his favorite initiative of the year because it really does focus on helping children, which is near and dear to his heart. He has two kids of his own, he’s very much a family man and he’s a very generous man, and he truly wants to help the community in the best way possible."
According to Breno, the event already has more than 850 people registered and over $6,500 in donations, but they are expecting more as the event is nearly here.
"We’ll match whatever we’ve raised already, but last year and the year before we noticed that most of our donations come within three days of the event. So the next couple of days will really be the telling story as to whether or not we’re going to be able to hit that whole $150,000," she said. "I do think we’re going to be able to hit at least the full $100,000 for the walkers. The $50,000 is dependent on us matching $25,000 worth of donations."
Other nonprofits selected for this year's Walk-a-Thon include five Binghamton-based charities: GiGi's Playhouse, a Down Syndrome achievement center; Mom's House, which provides child care and support to single parents; A Room to Heal, which creates dream bedrooms for children recovering from serious illnesses; Lourdes Camp Hope for Kids, a camp for children coping with the illness and loss of a loved one; and the Handicapped Children's Association, which provides disability services and support for kids.
The Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse has also been selected as a recipient this year, along with the University of Rochester-Golisano Children's Hospital in Rochester, children's crisis intervention group Things of my Very Own in Schenectady, and Scranton, PA-based St. Joseph's Center, which provides services for children with special needs.
Smith urges Chenango County residents to sign up for the Walk-a-Thon and support the work the CAC does for children of the community.
"Sign up! That’s all I want. It’s easy, it’s simple. Sign up, walk, have fun walking," she said.
More information on the Chenango County Child Advocacy Center can be found at ChenangoChildAdvocacy.us and on the Chenango County Child Advocacy Facebook page.
For more information on the Matthews Auto Walk-a-Thon, or to register for the event, visit MatthewsWalkathon.com.