BY MICHELLE MILLER
Cooperstown will be among five sites kicking off Autism Awareness Month this Saturday.
Organizers are hoping to get twice as many people to take steps towards raising awareness and money to support local programs and services.
Last year, $20,000 was raised and about 250 people showed up to participate in the rain at the Sports Clark Center. This year, festivities will take place at Glimmerglass State Park.
``We had more than we anticipated last year so we are hoping to have 500 people this year,’’ said Lynn Watson, who is helping chair the Cooperstown event.
The Kelberman Center Walk for Autism is the initiative of a group of parents who hope to heighten awareness in their communities. According to spokeswoman Julie Batson, the goal is to raise needed funds that will stay in the area. She said the intent is to reach as many people as possible; therefore, the walk will take place simultaneously at five sites and another walk will be held in Boonville on Saturday, April 24.
Other sites the walk will be held this Saturday include New Hartford, Oneida, Utica, Rome and Holland Patent.
Batson said this is the second year the Kelberman Center has spearheaded community efforts in order to create more awareness about autism. The Kelberman at Upstate Cerebral Palsy in Utica is a regional center for excellence for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and related learning challenges. According to Batson, the center is dedicated to excellence in service through prompt evaluation and diagnosis, individualized education and services, social and life skills enhancement, innovative practices, training and research.
Beth Myers, associate executive director at of the Kelberman Center, said the walks are a wonderful way to spread autism awareness throughout communities.
``One in 110 children in the United States has autism, so this event is an effective way for families and communities to raise money to support the critical services that the Kelberman Center provides children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.’’
BY MICHELLE MILLER
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