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Raising awareness and funds goal of Walk Now for Autism

Raising awareness and funds goal of Walk Now for Autism

Garrett Lange of Turlock (pictured above riding a horse at the 4T Ranch), his family and friends will be part of "Garrett's Gang" at the Walk Now for Autism awareness and fundraising event today in...

POSTED October 17, 2009 1:47 a.m.
Turlock mother Robin Lange was wondering why her son Garrett, who at the age of four, still had yet to speak the words mom or dad. With little awareness of autism, the Lange family didn’t notice the symptoms Garrett was displaying. Soon after, Garret was diagnosed with autism; which at the age of four was a little later than doctors recommend children begin therapy. Her lack of knowledge about autism and its symptoms and the effect it had on her own family is why Lange will be among the hundreds taking part in the Walk for Autism today.
“I think the most important thing about this walk is bringing awareness around the community, because I wish I would have known about the symptoms of autism when my son was diagnosed,” Lange said.
The “Garrett Gang” can be seen today at the walk with about 30 family members, teachers and friends supporting Garrett in his journey with autism.  Last year they raised about $3,000, and they are hoping to match it this year, Lange said.
“Garrett is really looking forward to the jump houses this year at the Walk for Autism,” she said.       
Autism Speaks is holding the second Central Valley Walk Now for Autism event that has become a big community day in Modesto. The walk begins at 9 a.m. today at the Modesto Junior College West campus.
So far, about 930 individual people have registered online for the walk with 127 teams coming in group formation to raise money for autism, said Michelle Rodridguez, Walk for Autism chair.
Around this same time last year, there were more volunteers signed up, she said. There were about 1,200 people signed up before the walk last year so the volunteers are down this year.    
Last year the Walk for Autism raised $184,000, Rodridguez said. Their goal this year is to raise about $150,000.  
“We are pretty sure we will hit that goal,” she said.  
The Central Valley has raised a total of $81,312 as of Thursday, Rodriguez said. More money is expected to be donated today during the walk.     
People with an autistic family member are not the only ones welcome to this walk-a-thon adventure. Anyone can come to support this cause. People can come by and just drop off a donation or enjoy the community event without donating.  
Besides the walk, there will also be other activities the community can participate in, Rodriguez said. There will be a resource fair at 9 a.m. with booths set up specifically to benefit autistic people or family members taking care of an autistic person. Booths will be set up from autistic schools and different organizations to help care takers learn more techniques to better help those diagnosed with autism.
There will also be face painting, a balloon artist, a play area with toys, a fast pitch machine, free snacks and performances from the band Radial, Rodriguez said. There is no fee to participate in any of these activities or the walk, though donations are accepted.  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.  

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