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Autism awareness goal of new 5K run in Danville

April 10, 2012

Danville Register & Bee

In an effort to build awareness of the impact autism has in the Dan River Region, a group of parents, educators and other awareness advocates have organized a race that has already drawn 25 teams and 260 individuals who have so far pledged $11,000 toward the effort.

The goal of the Dan River Autism Awareness 5K is to “provide a common ground to meet others in the community whose lives have been touched by autism, and who are passionate about raising autism awareness,” stated a news release from Lauren Mathena, one of the organizers. The national rate of autism is one in 88 children, but in the Danville area, the rate is roughly one in 70.

On Saturday, two events are scheduled to help support the run, which will take place April 21.

One team is holding a bake sale at Sam’s Club on Piedmont Drive from 9 a.m. until all items are sold, and the second is the Zumba for Autism, being held at Averett University’s North Campus.

A “Zumbathon” will be held at Averett’s Grant Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $10 donation will go to support the 5K, which in turn is raising money to support local children with autism and for Autism Speaks, a national autism advocacy and research organization.

For more information on the Zumba for Autism event, contact Kristen Houser Rojas at krojas@centerforpediatrictherapies.com or (434) 797-5530.

Autism is a neurobiological disorder affects a person’s ability to communicate, affect their social relationships and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges, Mathena said.

The event is sponsored by Building Blocks Center for Autism, Center for Pediatric Therapies, Danville Regional Medical Center, The Hughes Center and 19 other local businesses.

The 5K run will take place on the Riverwalk Trail at Dan Daniel Memorial Park. Sign in and registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the run will start at 10 a.m. After the event, participants and community members are invited to attend the post-event celebration.

For registration information on the Dan River Autism Awareness 5K visit www.danriverautism5k.org or call (434) 797-5530.