The weather cooperated beautifully and another large crowd turned out as the second annual “Go Long for Luke” fundraiser was held last Sunday at The Park At East Hills.
Up to 300 people attended and as last year, the playing field at The Park was full of youngsters divided into age groups, all playing intense games of flag football.
The purpose of the day is to raise funds and awareness for children with autism. The day is named for Roslyn resident Luke Greenfield, a student with autism who attends East Hills School. The day is not the creation of local adults but in fact, two of Luke’s friends, plus his sister, Sophie.
In 2013, Cole Faller, Jesse Faller and Sophie Greenfield combined forces and created Go Long For Luke. Cole was inspired by the example of Luke, his best friend. With assistance from their parents, this trio created an innovative fundraiser meant not only to send a heartfelt message to Luke, but to also rally the Roslyn community in support of autism awareness.
And that exactly what has happened. Sunday’s event raised $6,000 for autism awareness as the crowd was entertained by music from The Game Truck. The day also featured raffles, food, ices, cotton candy, face painting and airbrush tattoos.
As they did last year, youngsters in attendance wore their Go Long For Luke jerseys as they dotted the field with flag football games.
“It was a spectacular day for our entire community of kids raising awareness for kids with autism,” said Sandi Greenfield, Luke’s mother.
Last year, Cole Faller penned an essay celebrating his friendship with Luke Greenfield. This gem of brevity and feeling has become the rallying point of the event and it remains worth repeating:
“Luke has autism,” Cole wrote. “It’s okay. Autism is just a different way of thinking. It’s fun to play with him because he is so fast. All the time he runs everywhere. I love to chase him. Luke has a sister named Sophie and parents just like me. He has many friends also. Some kids with autism hear, see, smell and taste differently than other people. He covers his ear if someone screams. To Luke, it sounds 10 times louder. He cannot communicate that well, so he does it through an iPad. He has a schedule too. Luke understands some things differently. That’s my buddy, Luke.”
If the size of the Go Long For Luke event is any indication, Luke has more than one friend in Roslyn and it appears the fundraiser will enjoy many more successful years in the future.