Walk for Autism a success - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/5/09

Walk for Autism a success

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - One in every 150 newborns will be diagnosed with Autism. That makes Autism the fastest growing developmental disability, affecting about 1.5 million Americans, and the South Plains is not immune.

Sunday more than 300 Lubbockites, including Raider Red and the Masked Rider, put on their walking shoes for the fourth annual Hands for Hope walk. This year, everyone showed up to the Willie McCool track at Coronado High School with their sites set high; they hoped to raise $25,000.

NewsChannel 11 talked to several people, and they all said they were amazed by the number of people who laced up their shoes and showed up ready to walk for a cause.

Tina Vasquez was one of those people. 2008 was a difficult year for Vasquez and her family.

"My daughter was diagnosed with Autism last June," she said.

Sunday she showed up to the 4th annual Walk for Autism, to walk for her daughter, Trinity, and she said she was grateful for all the support.

"We're so proud of her," Vasquez said. "She's come a long way, and without my family and friends, I wouldn't be able to do it on my own."

Tina was not the only one who was thankful.

"I have an 11-year-old with Autism," Stacy Poteet said, "so for me, it's just wonderful to see the community come together and to know that these individuals are really just like any other children."

Poteet, the director of the walk, said the support shown for people like her and her son Jackson was over-whelming.

"I can only hope that it just makes him feel good to see that this day is about him and the many other children on the South Plains," she said.

Sarah Leclair was diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of Autism, at 18, and she said the annual walk gives her a chance to share her experience.

"It's my chance to give back to people," she said, "because this is what I've found is my calling; to help people like this."

The annual walk raises money for the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research at Texas Tech University. From family to friends, teachers, and many others, everyone at the event has their own personal connection to the walk.

"They want to have friends and they want to be loved and accepted as a part of the community," Poteet said.

"No two Autistic people are alike," Leclaire said, "so say you've met one, you've met one."

"There's not any words that describe it," Vasquez said. "We feel loved and blessed and just happy that everybody is here."

Organizers of Sunday's event said they were not sure how much money was raised, but they hoped they met their goal of $25,000.

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