Grand Island woman’s fund-raising event to benefit people with autism

A mother’s tribute to her son will take center stage at the fourth annual Step Up for Autism walk Saturday, September 23, in Grand Island.

The event, organized by Dory Matwijkow, will be held in Beaver Island State Park starting at 11:00, with the 1.5-mile walk stepping off at noon.  There also will be a basket raffle, pri

ze drawings and a bake sale featuring items made by Matwijkow, who is a professional pastry chef.

Dory conducts the event each year in honor of her son, Austin, who is on the autism spectrum. Austin lives in a home in Jamestown operated by The Resource Center.  The money raised through Dory’s walk benefits the services The Resource Center provides to people on the spectrum.

“It’s the least I can do for an agency that has been a huge part of my life for the last seven years,” she said.

Dory first began supporting The Resource Center by traveling from her home in Grand Island to Jamestown to participate in TRC’s annual Step Up for Autism walk.  The event is conducted in partnership with Filling the Gap, Inc., another Chautauqua County non-profit organization that works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of people with disabilities and other socioeconomic challenges.

When The Resource Center and Filling the Gap canceled their in-person walk in 2020 because of the pandemic, Dory decided to organize her own Step Up for Autism walk.  Though she had to limit the number of participants because of COVID restrictions on people gathering together, her event raised $10,000.  Buoyed by that success, Dory decided to turn her walk into an annual event.

Everyone is invited to take part in this year’s event.  People can embark on the walk, or they can just come for the bake sale and basket raffle.  The registration fee for the walk is $25.

Dory has again set a goal of raising $10,000.  People interested in helping her reach that target can make a donation in several ways.  They can donate using the form below.  They can mail a check (made payable to “Filling the Gap/Dory’s Walk”) to Filling the Gap, 92 Fairmount Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701.  Or they can donate to Dory’s Venmo account, which is @Dory-Matwijkow.  All donations, as well as the money raised from Dory’s event, will be given to Filling the Gap to support the services The Resource Center offers to people on the autism spectrum.

The creation of her own autism walk is just one of the ways Dory supports others.  Four years ago, she started baking sweets to raise money, and the following year she branched out to also bake dog biscuits.  Her treats (for humans and canines) have been popular, allowing her to donate thousands of dollars to The Resource Center and Filling the Gap.

Organizing the walk takes a lot of effort, and Dory is grateful for the support she receives from a group of family and friends that are dubbed “Austin’s Angels.”  She is also appreciative of everyone else who helps make her Step Up for Autism walk a success.

“I thank the volunteers at the event, friends that donate baskets and gift cards, Grand Island businesses that donated money, and my family for their endless help and support year round,” she said. 

“I couldn’t do it without all of the support.”

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