By Kim West
— 2-20-14, 329 words
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The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon symbolizes efforts to unlock the mysteries of autism spectrum disorders.
WALK FOR AUTISM
Athens High to host autism awareness walk
By Kim West
The Centers for Disease Control data shows a relatively small portion of children ages 3-17 in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder.
But raising awareness and ramping up research efforts are invaluable for the 1 percent diagnosed with ASD and their loved ones.
For the local community, a centerpiece of these efforts is the second annual Walk for Autism, set for 9:30 a.m. April 19 at the Athens High School football stadium on U.S. 31.
Walk organizer Todd Tomerlin said since the Athens event is in only its second year, this is a “walk-only” event and does not yet include a 5K run.
Tomerlin said the event is designed to be family friendly, with inflatables, face painting, children’s games and bubbles, among other activities.
“There will be resource tables for the parents to have an opportunity to get info from area providers and (other) needed information as well,” he said. “We will also have music, raffle prizes from area businesses and hopefully just have a fun day for everyone.”
He said since the walk is the day before Easter Sunday, there will also be an Easter egg hunt for children.
Tomerlin said proceeds from the event go toward the Autism Society of Alabama, which supports families statewide.
Online registration at $30 per participant is available now for the walk, which is described by state autism officials as “the single-most powerful fundraising event in April that unifies thousands of participants statewide.”
Registration also will be available on the day of the event beginning at 8 a.m., Tomerlin said.
The Autism Society describes autism as a complex developmental disability that typically appears in ages 0-3 and affects the ability to communicate and interact with others.
ASD is the fastest-growing development disability in the U.S. and affects as many as 50,000 people in Alabama and one in 88 births nationwide, according to the Autism Society.
For more information or to register for the walk, visit http://www.walkforautismal.com or email Tomerlin at email@example.com.