Hundreds Help Raise Funds, Awareness Of Autism Locally

A group makes its way around the track on Saturday.

A group makes its way around the track on Saturday.

OSWEGO, NY – The 11th annual “Fun Walk for Autism” drew a big crowd to Leighton Elementary School and the nearby Wilber Field on Saturday.

Despite the chilly weather, more than 100 walkers took part in the annual event to benefit the Oswego County Autism Task Force.

At times there were a few walkers strolling around the track. Other times there were more than 100.

Autism remains “a puzzle.” And so, jig-saw puzzle pieces are used to count laps around the track.

“It’s really chilly out here,” said Roger Pullen of Oswego as he dropped a puzzle piece into one of the collection buckets on the track. “I want to do something to help.”

Inside Leighton, the gym was packed with dozens more taking advantage of plenty of free fun activities. There were crafts, face painting, air hops and slides, and balloon creations. A resource area offered a variety of services and information regarding autism.

Among vendors were: Oswego County Sheriff’s Department’s Child Safe Program, ARISE, Intragrated Counseling Services, Oswego County Opportunities, the YMCA and several other representatives of county-wide providers of services for folks with developmental delays and disabilities.

In addition to the resource area and all the other activities, there were raffles on baskets donated by local groups and businesses as well as a raffle on a Kindle Fire. The winner of the Kindle was Mia Kerfein.

Meanwhile, outside there were a bubble area, concessions, and a DJ playing music to keep those walking on the track moving.

The event raised a little more than $2,100 for OCATF, according to Tammy Thompson, director of programs for children with special needs for Oswego County (and president of the task force).

Besides acting as a fundraiser, the event, sponsored by the task force, also focused attention on those diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Oswego County and what services are available, explained OCATF member Theresa Familo.

Autism Spectrum Disorders is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people. ASDs are ‘spectrum disorders.’ That means it affects each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with ASD and 1 in 42 boys are estimated to be diagnosed.

OCATF’s mission is to enhance the lives of those touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders.

For more information about OCATF, visit them on Facebook.