Although the afternoon was dampened by rain that didn’t stop nearly 700 people from visiting the 14th annual Walk for Autism Saturday.
“April is autism awareness month, so we always plan this event for April,” said Mike Bell, president for the Autism Project of Southern Ohio. This was probably one of the best walks that I’ve seen in the past three years.”
Bell’s organization coordinates the annual walk. His son, now 21, was diagnosed with autism when he was two and half years old.
“The cost for raising a child with autism is about $60,000 a year. After spending their money on medical care, special services and education, a lot of parents don’t have the extra money to take their kids out to the movies, or get them out in the community as much as they’d like,” explained Bell, “That’s where we come in, we take the kids out, we try to put on events like this. We buy school supplies, donate to multihandicap classrooms, and do everything we can for the autism community.”
Adults and children of all ages came out to New Boston’s Millbrook Park in support of the event.
The day included visits from Batman and the Batmobile and the Princesses from Crazy Lady Bows. Scotty’s Satellite service sponsored a dunk tank in case the rain didn’t do enough for visitors, and a live auction helped raise funds to continue the Autism Project’s work.
“We wanted to bring the autism community together with the rest of the community. It allows us to come together as one and raise that awareness,” Bell said.
In addition to these events, KC’s Mobile DJ Service played hit songs while Life Medical Response Service grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.
The MLB hosted junior home-run derby and challenger-league games, which were played throughout the day, and of course, the walk at 3 p.m.
The Autism Project of Southern Ohio was founded in 2006, and was officially recognized as a nonprofit organization in 2007. It was created by a group of parents seeking support for their autistic children.
“It started with just five families who met in a small room in the Carousel Center,” former president Jodie Walker said. “Now it serves over 700 families.”
The Autism Project’s mission is to raise autism awareness in southern Ohio and educate the public about autism. They also offer support services to those with autism and asperger’s, and help autistic children and adults be the best they can be in school and in the community.
For more information about the Autism Project of Southern Ohio and their services, please contact (740) 464-6781. You can also find more information by searching “Autism Project of Southern Ohio” on Facebook.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext 1932 or via Twitter @PDT_Ciara