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UNCA Run To Fight Autism: Asheville Citizen-Times

UNCA Run To Fight Autism: Asheville Citizen-Times

UNCA Run To Fight Autism
by Karen Chavez
Asheville Citizen-Times
September 26, 2012

5K on Saturday is One of the Region’s Most Popular

The WNC Run/Walk for Autism 5K, sponsored by Diamond Brand Outdoors, has become one of those defining events in Asheville. When the race rolls around, you know fall has arrived.

The seventh annual event, which has moved from Carrier Park in past years, to the campus of UNC Asheville, has also become one of them more popular runs in the area. Last year, it drew more than 700 runners and walkers to the scenic university setting, said David Laxton, communications director for the Autism Society of North Carolina.jaime

“The event helps raise awareness, raise understanding and raise funds that support the autism community,” Laxton said. “All the proceeds end up staying in Western North Carolina and are distributed among three different services.”

According to the Autism Society of North Carolina, each day two families in the state have a child diagnosed with a form of autism. The incidence of autism is now 1 in 70 births and 1 in 54 for boys. Individuals on the autism spectrum and their families need help and support in order to reach their full potential as contributing members of society.

Proceeds from the 2012 WNC Run/Walk for Autism support the programs and services of the Autism Society of North Carolina, including Blue Ridge Bags and More, a vocational rehabilitation program, the Sara Handlan Crisis Fund, supported living homes, and the advocacy programs in WNC.

One Blue Ridge Bags employee is Jaime Alvarez, 26, of Asheville, who has autism.

Blue Ridge Bags provides meaningful work and fosters creativity for adults on the autism spectrum. Original artwork by participants is scanned and printed on reusable canvas tote bags, mouse pads and lunch bags, which are then sold locally and online.

Alvarez’s mother, Jean, said the work has had a positive impact on her son’s life. She said he is looking forward to participatng, as he does every year, in the Run/Walk for Autism on Saturday.

The race takes advantage of the early fall leaf color on the tree-splashed campus, winding its way out along the Glenn’s Creek Greenway and Botanical Gardens at Asheville and through UNCA’s main roads. A variety of sponsors, businesses, service providers, and local support resources will be available at the event to assist families.

“This year our goal is to raise $40,000.You can participate as part of a team leader or as an individual runner or a walker. People can raise money or make donations,” Laxton said.