September 1, 2020

From August 27-30, Mike McKenna and his son, Matt, walked 100 miles on the Cape Cod Rail Trail to raise money and awareness for The New England Center for Children (NECC). Dubbed “The Mike Walk” this event took place instead of the annual “The Mike Golf Invitational”, which for over a decade had been supporting autism research and education, but could not be held this year due to group restrictions. The inspiration behind the “Mike” events is Mike’s son, Michael, 18, a student at NECC since he was 5 years old.

Throughout the four days of walking, Mike and Matt encountered a number of challenges. From battling fatigue to braving pouring rain and thunderstorms, the duo was pushed to the limit to complete their challenge. Through it all, the impact that NECC has on children with autism inspired them to keep going.

“The New England Center for Children saved [our family’s] lives,” said Mike McKenna on a Facebook live stream ahead of the third day of the walk. “The administration is really strong. Vinnie Strully and Cathy Welch, they are tough, but they are tough for a reason. That school is flawless in their execution. They’re consistent with the kids…They give our kids the best. What Michael has done at the school, whatever he is going to do, he is going to maximize his potential at the school. The teachers are godsends.”

While documenting the walk on social media, Mike received support from people both inside and outside the NECC community. The scale of his support network and their generosity blew Mike away.

“It means a lot that a stranger or a close friend would open up their wallet to just support [Matt and I] in any way. I’ve heard from people I used to work with 30 years ago, old rugby teammates and it all goes to a school that walks their talk.”

In addition to the financial support of individuals, a number of companies sponsored the event. Altogether, through the support of so many generous people and organizations, the Mike Walk raised over $40,000. These funds will go towards a number of different initiatives all aimed at transforming the lives of children with autism.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Allways Health Partners

Rockland Trust

Lee Kennedy

Sudireddy Foundation

Shields Health Care Group

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Driscoll Agency

Fallon Health

CBA Companies

About The New England Center for Children
The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) is an award-winning autism education center and research institute. Our community of teachers, researchers, and clinicians have transformed the lives of thousands of children with autism worldwide through education, research, and technology. The Center provides comprehensive services to maximize independence: home-based, day, and residential programs, partner classrooms in public school systems, consulting services, the ACE® ABA Software System (, teacher professional development, and research on educational best practices.

NECC is committed to staff professional development, partnering with local colleges to provide on-site graduate training and degrees at little to no cost to the NECC teacher. The result is a growing pool of exceptional teachers trained in best-in-class methodologies, whether they continue their careers at NECC or move on to public schools or private agencies. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at