Autism society to host 2K walk

Autism society to host 2K walk

Tuscaloosa residents will come together Saturday at Central High School for the 10th annual Autism Walk, which will raise donations for the Autism Society of Alabama. Photo courtesy of Melanie Jones

There will be numerous activities for individuals and families to get involved with, aside from the 2K walk. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., while the walk and other activities will last from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Attendees may register online prior to the event for $30 or register on-site for $35. Each walker will receive a T-shirt, and all proceeds will go to the Autism Society of Alabama.

Melanie Jones, executive director of the Autism Society of Alabama, said many families affected by autism participate in the event by making teams and sometimes have their own T-shirts made for their team.

Jones said the Autism Society of Alabama is located in Birmingham, but has a volunteer base that spans the state.

“We have the networking, support groups and walk leaders in various cities throughout the state,” Jones said. “Everyone will pitch in and make this happen because it is so important.”

Patty McKnight, co-coordinator with Jennifer Yaw in Tuscaloosa, said students may benefit from participating in the event by increasing the awareness and acceptance of autism as well as supporting the Autism Society of Alabama, which provides outreach, education and family support statewide.

The Autism Society of Alabama’s statewide goal is to raise $100,000, and each city will contribute to that, Jones said. Tuscaloosa typically contributes $10,000 to $15,000 to the overall goal.

“Personally, I would love to see $10,000 raised in Tuscaloosa,” McKnight said. “I think it is very doable. Autism is affecting so many more families, and the awareness has become much more pronounced, so it’s not unreasonable to think that every person knows someone affected by autism. Raising $10,000 seems like a realistic goal.”

The mission of the Autism Society of Alabama is to improve services for individuals and their families through education and advocacy, Jones said.

“All of the proceeds from events help provide for conferences and seminars and co-sponsor the statewide conference that is held in Tuscaloosa with the University,” she said. “Often times a family will call the society first thing after they get a diagnosis, and we help them navigate the service delivery system.”

Local service agencies will have exhibits set up at the event with drawings for door prizes at each booth, McKnight said. There will be complimentary biscuits and bottled water donated from McDonald’s and Buffalo Rock.

“For children’s activities, we will have 18- and 20-foot slides, face painting, a bubble station and special appearances by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Elmo,” McKnight said. “It will be a great outing for the kids.”

McKnight said it is a great event for everyone to go walk, get their parking spot and then head to the stadium for the A-Day game, as well as a great way to get involved with the community.

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