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Autism Speaks U Hosts 5K Race/3K Walk

The Daily Collegian
Emily Ellis

Head Basketball Coach Pat Chambers speaks to a crowd of walkers Saturday morning before they set out on the Autism Speaks Foundation walk. Credit: Owen Dalton/Collegian

By the end of the 7th Annual Autism Speaks U 5K Race/3K Walk on Saturday morning, Penn State’s chapter had raised more than $85,000.

Autism Speaks U National Co-founder Andrew Moses, Class of 2007, said the group will continue collecting donations for about three months to try to reach their goal of $100,000.

They will also continue to sell $10 raffle tickets this week for a chance to win a 2013 “extreme” spring break trip, Moses said.

The autism spectrum encompasses a range of disorders with varying degrees of difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors, according to the Autism Speaks website.

Autism Speaks works to improve the lives of those on the autism spectrum.

“For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support,” according to the website.

Moses and Co-founder Adam Dorfman, also Class of 2007, started the Autism Speaks U National program as members of Beta Sigma Beta fraternity, which still sponsors the event along with Alpha Xi Delta and Pi Beta Phi sororities.

“Each year is the most exciting year,” Moses said. “But today, the community came together. We showed who Penn State really is. That’s why the event is so special to us.”

Perry-West Perry Elementary School teachers Carla Wray and Jenessa Heywood came to the event with fellow Midd-West School District teachers as the “Midd-West H.A.N.D.S.” team.

“As a teacher, I really appreciate seeing the families and the children and getting to meet people with different experiences with children with autism,” Wray said.

 

Heywood, team captain and an autistic-support teacher, said she supports nine students on the autism spectrum at Perry-West Perry.

One in every 88 children is on the spectrum, Heywood said, so it was nice to see college students come out to support them.

Penn State Autism Speaks U Overall Chairman Eric Bermansaid the event had an amazing turnout, with about 12,000 students and community members there to support children on the autism spectrum.

The event was co-emceed by Drew Shannon of 105.9 Qwik Rock and Nittany Lion football announcer Steve Jones, Berman said. The celebrity grand marshal was Nittany Lion basketball coach Pat Chambers.

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Date: 4/16/2012