Mike's Seafood Run-Walk for Autism, shown in 2020, is coming back as a live event for the Presidents Day weekend.


After going virtual the last two years due to the pandemic, the Mike’s Seafood Run-Walk for Autism is returning in February as a live event that is expected to attract thousands of participants to Sea Isle City in the middle of winter.

Although it is traditionally held on the Sunday of Presidents Day weekend, the autism awareness fundraiser is shifting to Saturday, Feb. 18, this year to give organizers the flexibility of reserving Sunday, Feb. 19, as a rain date if needed.

“With all of the hard work and all of the volunteers dedicating their time, it would be a shame not to have it because of bad weather. But now we have the opportunity to have it on Sunday instead of Saturday if we have bad weather,” said Mike Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Seafood in Sea Isle.

The run-walk will serve as the centerpiece of Sea Isle’s Presidents Day celebration, a time when thousands of visitors traditionally head to the shore for a winter getaway weekend of shopping, dining and family-friendly activities.

“In addition to the Run-Walk for Autism, which will take place on the Promenade followed by a huge family-friendly gathering at Excursion Park, many of our local restaurants and retailers will be open and ready to greet customers with discounts and special offers,” Sea Isle Mayor Leonard Desiderio said in a statement.

Monichetti is elated that the run-walk is returning as a live event after becoming an online fundraiser in 2021 and 2022 because of crowd restrictions during the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everybody is looking forward to this event coming back to life,” he said in an interview Friday.

He is expecting about 3,000 people will participate in either the one-mile fun walk or the 5-kilometer run when the event gets underway at noon on the Promenade at John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Walkers will head north on the Promenade, while runners will go south.

“I have nearly 400 people preregistered already. It’s a big number this early in January. To have nearly 400 people preregistered in January is not something that we’ve had before. I’m expecting a big turnout because of that.”

Mike and Jeannie Monichetti, of Sea Isle City, pictured in 2020, are the founders of the autism fundraiser.

Now in its 15th year, the event traditionally attracts thousands of participants and is a major fundraiser benefiting autism support groups, special services schools and families of special needs children.

Over the years, the run-walk has raised more than $1 million for autism-related causes, Monichetti said.

Monichetti and his wife, Jeannie, have four children, including two who have autism, Kara, 22, and Michael Jr., 20. Having autistic children and knowing the challenges that parents with autistic children face on a daily basis served as their inspiration for starting the fundraiser.

“I started the event because there was nothing to promote or support autism awareness at the Jersey Shore,” Monichetti said.

Monichetti has established a broad network of supporters over the years, including private donors, city officials, the business community, corporations, schools, churches, civic organizations, autism groups and many others. Each year, he is touched by their generosity.

The event has also benefited over the years from the backing of Mayor Desiderio and the municipal government, Monichetti pointed out.

“We couldn’t do it without Mayor Desiderio and all of the city services for their support and making it a success,” he said. “I’m proud to have this event in Sea Isle City. The city of Sea Isle is very gracious and accommodating in helping Mike’s Seafood with our cause.”

Mike Monichetti, right, says the autism awareness fundraiser has benefited from support by Mayor Leonard Desiderio. The two are pictured together at Mike’s Seafood in 2021.

Following the run and walk, an awards ceremony and after-party will be held in large, heated tents in Excursion Park next to the Promenade at JFK Boulevard.

“We will have food, fun and entertainment for the entire family,” Monichetti said of the after-party.

He extended his special thanks to 1st Bank of Sea Isle City for providing the heated tents.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have 1st Bank of Sea Isle City picking up the huge expense of providing the heated tents,” he said.

In advance of the Presidents Day weekend, Monichetti is planning a campaign to publicize the event, including mailing out 3,500 postcards to people who have participated in the run or walk in the past and distributing 30,000 promotional flyers in Atlantic and Cape May counties.

For more information on the Mike’s Seafood Run-Walk for Autism at noon on Saturday, Feb. 18, including registration, visit