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Saint Mary’s to host run, walk in support of autism

| Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Saint Mary’s Students Supporting Autism club will host the second annual Autism Awareness 5K Run and Walk on Saturday April 23 at 8 a.m. Students can register through OrgSync or at check-in the day of. The event will begin at the Welcome Center and ends at Lake Marian. 

Senior Allyson Strasen, president of Students Supporting Autism, said the club raises money throughout each school year and donates all funds to three organizations — Lighthouse Autism Center, the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) and Hannah and Friends. 

“We wanted to continue that this year because we were so successful last year,” Strasen said.“Last year we raised upwards of $700. We ended up having $1,200 total to donate at the end of the year.”

Strasen said these organizations do help adults with autism, but focus mainly on children.

According to Strasen, Lighthouse Autism Center is “basically like a little school for [children] with autism. They come in and do applied behavioral analysis therapy and all this fun stuff.”

She said BACA is in Elkhart and is similar to Lighthouse Autism Center. She said the therapists work one-on-one with children, providing therapy specialized for behavior and social skills.

“My cousin was born at 23 or 24 weeks old, and he is a little miracle baby,”  Strasen said.“He is 12 now, and he has cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and severe autism, so that’s where it all stemmed from. I do Best Buddies at Notre Dame, and we work with people with disabilities, so I felt like this was another thing to add on.” 

Strasen said students should get involved with the 5K because of the prevalence of autism.

“Everyone knows someone or knows of someone else who is affected by this, whether it’s a family member or a friend,” she said.

According to Strasen, it is important to keep in mind that people in the Saint Mary’s community may have autism.

 “Everyone at Saint Mary’s is so open minded for the most part and accepting of other people,” she said. “We probably have students here with autism and we don’t know it because there’s a huge spectrum of it. ”

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