You have two opportunities to support Autism research and awareness in Savannah.
On April 6, Light Up Savannah for Autism GLOW Run is being put on by Stroller Strong Moms of Savannah at Forsyth Park.
Alexa Smith, owner of Stroller Strong Moms of Savannah, shares a few stats about autism that influenced both chairs to head up these events in 2014:
â€¢ Autism now affects one in 88 children and one in 54 boys.
â€¢ Autism prevalence figures are growing.
â€¢ Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
â€¢ Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.
â€¢ Autism receives less than 5 percent of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases.
â€¢ Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism.
â€¢ There is no medical detection or cure for autism.
Smith started the Light Up Savannah for Autism GLOW Run in support of the glow-in-the-dark race put on by Stroller Strong Moms Columbus on April 18 in Columbus. Both organizations are encouraging people from around the world to participate virtually through April 1, and mileage will be based on an honor system.
"The idea for the virtual run came about because the race is in Columbus, Ga., and we knew there would be a lot of friends and family and past Stroller Strong Moms who would want to take part in the race. With a virtual run, everyone around the world can participate!" Smith says.
For Friday's event, Smith encourages families to take part in this worthy cause.
"All of the proceeds go straight to Autism Speaks," she says. "There will be prizes for those who bring the biggest crowd. Let's light up Savannah blue!"
Then on March 30, the AASU Autism Speaks U chapter is hosting the third annual Walk for Autism at Lake Mayer. This cause is close to Chair Latoriya Young's heart because she has two nephews, Ethen and Carlos, diagnosed with autism.
"I witnessed how the disorder was changing their worlds with school and at home.
"I didn't know how I could help them or my sisters because no one in my family had ever been diagnosed with autism. So, I knew I was going to be moving to Savannah to go to Armstrong and reached out to Lakesha Moore, founding member and first president of the chapter, and told her that I wanted to become the marketing chair for the chapter, and history was made," Young says.
Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks U hosts state and chapter level walks, and their mission with any event is to help raise money for autism research and to help families that are affected by autism.
"We are always looking for ways to get the community involved in spreading autism awareness, and all of the families and fellow advocate groups or individuals help make events like the walk possible," Young says.
Autism Speaks focuses on supporting diagnosed individuals and their families.
"Autism doesn't just affect the individual who has the disorder, but also their family. You can't just observe it; you have to enter into that child's or adult's world, which is very rewarding," Young says.
"And to me, the organization is mainly about awareness. It represents all parents that have gotten awkward or rude looks from observers in the grocery store when their child is making a lot of noise just because they can't help themselves, or all the mothers who have a difficult time finding playmates for their children just because they are afraid or worried that other kids will bully them."
Last year, the event raised more than $2,000, and the group has three more events coming up, including a fundraiser at Joe's Crab Shack on April 2, Light It Up Blue on April 8 and the Autism Forum on April 22.
Young also encourages other colleges to get involved with Autism Speaks.
"We are currently the only Autism Speaks U chapter in the state of Georgia and we hope that more universities and colleges will follow our lead and start a chapter, as well," Young says.
"We couldn't do what we have done without the support from the families, our chapter adviser, Dr. Jane Wong, who stands behind us on everything that we do," she says.
"And a special thanks to the AASU chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, who has raised funds for autism research and continues to raise autism awareness."