The nonprofit Autism Speaks hosted its sixteenth annual South Jersey Autism Speaks Walk last weekend at the Bishop’s Gate Corporate Center to promote acceptance of and raise vital funds for people with autism.
Autism – or autism spectrum disorder – refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the CDC, autism affects 1 in 44 children and 1 in 45 adults in the country.
Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each case presents a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways people with autism learn, think and problem solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged, and they may require significant support in their daily lives. Others may live independently.
The nonprofit Autism Speak was founded in 2005 and uses research, advocacy, programs and services to create a “brighter life on the spectrum” for people with autism and their families. It has aided more than 26 million people with free resources, services and support. The annual walk is the world’s largest autism fundraiser.
Kristen Apen, executive director of Autism Speaks’ state and eastern Pennsylvania chapters, remarked on the walk’s mission and her experience interacting with families at events.
“I have been with Autism Speaks for six years and I love their mission and what the organization stands for,” she said. “I enjoy meeting all the families at our walks and personally getting to know them.”
The walk has been held at Bishop’s Gate for more than six years. The two-mile walk started down Leadenhall Road, looped around Bancroft, and eaded back to the ARI/Holman Building.
Among sponsors at the walk were community-service providers who gave insight and support to families attending the event. Eighty-six cents of every dollar generated during the walk will fund research, advocacy, programs and connections to critical lifelong supports and services.
For more information or to donate to Autism Speaks, visit autismspeaks.org/walk.