The weather is warming up and there’s no better time than the present to support a good cause.
The very first Community Walk-A-Thon for Autism Awareness is coming to Branson.
Event Organizer Victoria France is so excited for this event and can’t wait to let everyone know that there are resources available for those in the community with autism.
“I think what our main objective is autism awareness. Awareness is very important, but so is acceptance, and I think it’s been a hard year for everyone and it’s been a very hard year for those affected with autism. I know it has been for my son personally; being cooped up in the house. There’s been a lot of struggles and I think one of my main objectives is to just get those kids out and about, together again, and just let them socialize,” said France.
“We all have our struggles and I just want parents to know that they’re not alone and that we’re all in this together. There’s a community, a really great community, that is here to back them up and they have a lot of resources in this town that most towns don’t have. I just want them to know every resource that they have available to them.”
The Community Walk-A-Thon will take place on May 22 at the Branson RecPlex - Pavilion A, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. and the walk starting at 10 a.m.
“When you get there, there’s going to be an admissions table, and that is when you will pay your dues. It’s $10 for adults and $5 for kids for the walk,” said France. “(In regards to the walk) you will pledge a certain amount of donation per lap that you walk … Basically we just want to promote a healthy and active lifestyle because that’s one of the top five things that are best for kids and adults with autism.”
For those who may not wish to walk, according to France, there will be several other options to keep everyone busy.
“We’ll have the walk, but we’re also going to have other fun things. It’s right there by the playground, so kids can play and have fun; but we’re also going to have quite a large raffle with six or seven items to raffle off,” said France.
“I’m also going to have a merchandise table; I have t-shirts, keychains, water bottles and all kinds of stuff, so if people can’t do the walk and they still want to donate they get something really fun that they can still carry around, wear and still promote the people that they love the most.”
According to France, proceeds from the walk-a-thon will benefit autism resources at Elevate Branson and the Autism Speaks Foundation.
“I am partnering with Elevate Branson. They have a great, new sensory room in their new building. I took my son to their opening event and he loved it. He loved being around children and adults just like him,” said France. “Ms. Cathy Brown, the kids director there at Elevate Branson, will be coming and speaking, and telling them a little bit about what kind of programs they’re going to have this summer. So when these kids get out of school they have a routine over the summer as well, which I think is really important. Kids and adults with autism, they benefit from a routine. So, I think it’s really going to be beneficial.
“We also have Autism Speaks Foundation. Something that has been vital to me and my family when my son was diagnosed on the spectrum, it has so many resources and it is wonderful.”
France is even hoping that this walk-a-thon can turn into an annual event for the community to help raise autism awareness.
“I’m hoping for it to be the first annual. That’s something I’m really shooting for,” said France. “My son has autism, he was diagnosed about six years ago. It’s been really heavy on my heart and my fiance said ‘You know honey, if this is something you really want to do, let’s do it. It’s for a good cause, let’s just see what we can do,’ and I took that and flew with it. I was like, ‘Okay, let’s do it,’”
For those who may be unable to attend the walk-a-thon in person, there’s still a way to contribute to the cause.
“I’ve got a lot of questions regarding ‘I can’t make it that day, is there a place, a site I can still donate on?’ I’ve included on the registration site, on signupgenius.com, there’s a slot just for donations,” said France. “You can go to signupgenius.com, enter my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it comes up right there.
“I’m very excited and anxious. I’ve never been more passionate about anything in my entire life … I just want to spread the word as much as possible for these great kids to get together and have fun again after this crazy last year we’ve had … I think this will be a really great event and I’m really excited.”
For more information call 417.337.0522 or email email@example.com.