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Autism walk to support locals affected by disorder

February 3, 2017
Lehigh Acres Citizen

People still have time to register for a walk this weekend to benefit locals affected by autism.

Hosted by My Autism Connection, the inaugural Autism Community Walk will be held on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Estero Community Park in Estero. The event aims to support children and families dealing with autism, as well as raise funds to build and develop more programs and services.

"We also want everyone to understand and educate themselves that it's a broad spectrum," Sandra Worth, founder and president of the non-profit, said. "There's many different faces of autism."

My Autism Connection works mostly with mid-level to higher functioning individuals with autism, focusing on social skills and unspoken rules, like reading body language, which they may lack.

"We have programs that work on developing those skills," she said.

As of Thursday, at least a couple of hundred people had signed up for Saturday's walk.

"We are anticipating between 800 and 1,000 (participants)," Worth said.

People can register online in advance or day of at the event.

The registration cost is $25, but organizers are not discouraging anyone from attending.

"If there is a financial hardship, we welcome anyone anyway," she said.

"We will take donations for anything," Worth added.

One lap around the park is one-quarter mile.

"It's what you want to make of it," she said of the distance that each participant chooses to walk.

"It's a beautiful park," Worth added. "Beautiful layout."

Prizes will be given out in two categories. The individual who raises the most money will receive one free salad each month from Panera Bread; the biggest team will win a pizza party at Pizza D-LUX.

The walk will feature a mix of local autism-related providers and resources.

Worth cited behavioral therapists, occupational therapists and tutors as a few examples.

"Then, they'll be vendors just selling their wares," she said.

There will also be an array of activities, including a scavenger hunt for the adults and for the youth. Worth explained that the adults will meet with vendors, while the children will search for items.

"They'll get a wonderful prize," she said of the winners.

There will be face painting and Bubble Soccer, and Home Depot will host a workshop.

"So, there'll be hands-on building things for the kids," Worth said.

Sensory activities are also planned for the youth.

"The fire department is going to be engaging, as well," she said.

Members of My Autism Connection will perform a talent show for entertainment.

The event will also include several raffles, with prizes ranging from gift baskets, to tickets to WonderWorks, Florida Everblades, Medieval Times, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and more.

"All kinds of great prizes," Worth said.

Food trucks will be set up on site.

"I just want everybody to come out together, show their support for a great cause and have a lot of fun," she said. "And they might learn something new about the autism spectrum that they didn't know."

Worth added that all of the proceeds will assist those in the local community.

"Every dime that is raised will stay here to help the families and individuals on the autism spectrum," she said.

To register for the walk, visit online at:

For more information, call 239-201-8133 or visit:

Estero Community Park is at 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero.



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