Ten years ago, one in 166 children was diagnosed with autism. The number today is one in 68, according to Autism Speaks. This disease is also four times more likely to affect boys than girls.
Medford resident Christina Singh’s son Logan has been diagnosed with highly functioning autism, so it is a subject that means a lot to her.
About six months ago, Singh came up with an idea to raise awareness and money for the cause, and her idea has come full circle since then.
On Saturday, April 25 at 8 a.m., Singh will host The Miles of Hope 5k Race for Autism at 79 Tecumseh Trail in Medford Lakes to support the local chapter of Autism Speaks.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years,” Singh said.
Singh started an all-women’s triathlon club in 2012 with the hope of empowering local women in Medford.
“It’s the first race that I am directing, but I’ve always done triathlons in the past, so I have a good idea of how races are run and what is needed to do so,” Singh said.
Singh has lived in Medford Lakes for eight years after moving from Philadelphia where she was a flight attendant for 10 years.
After moving to a more suburban area, her idea of one day hosting a 5k for Autism awareness became more realistic.
“Medford is a runner friendly community. It has hosted different races like the Turkey Trot and the Memorial Day run, so they have a USATF certified course,” Singh said.
She knew this was not something she could do completely on her own and was grateful for all the help she received.
Singh couldn’t say enough about the people who have lent a hand in this process, including Heidi Pohlienus, Rachel Urban, Simonne Humell and Melissa Warren.
Pohlienus is proficient in wood crafting, so she took the reins of designing the awards. All runners who enroll will receive a t-shirt, and runners who finish in a certain place will receive a unique handcrafted prize based on their age group.
Humell and Warren helped coordinate the race and gather volunteers for race day, while Urban assisted in retaining the initial sponsors.
These three women all have one thing in common that makes this topic uniquely influential to them: They all have a child who has been diagnosed with Autism — Simone’s son Robbie, Melissa’s son Carson and Urban’s son Kells.
“The driving factor behind this event is the idea of raising awareness for a cause like this and promoting something near and dear to our hearts,” Singh said.
Singh has already achieved the goals she originally set out to reach when the idea originated, and the event hasn’t even taken place yet.
“You cannot put a number on raising awareness for something like this, but I initially was looking to raise $1,000 and have 100 people sign up. I currently have about $1,500 and 155 people signed up and we are still days away from the event,” Singh said.
Singh made it a point to do the maximum amount of research as far as the logistics of the event and getting permits.
“I believe in bringing back to the community and wanted to make certain that I crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s to ensure maximum success, and hopefully make this a yearly thing,” Singh said.
To register for the run online, visit runsignup.com/Race/NJ/MedfordLakes/MedfordLakesMilesofHope. There is a reduced cost for people under the age of 18. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 18 and under. Early registration is open until April 23.