News Article Details

Relay4Autism expected to draw more than 1,000 participants

Times - 8/2/2019

Aug. 2--HIGHLAND -- North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan and the Autism Society of Indiana will host the Region's first Relay4Autism on Saturday at Wicker Memorial Park.

The count is 250 teams and growing.

"There has been an outpouring of interest and support in this event from the moment it was announced," Mrvan said. "This event has been made possible through the efforts of my staff -- Community Development Coordinator Rosie Quintanilla and Assistant Community Development Coordinator Tavel Grant -- along with our partners throughout the autism community who are making this dream a reality."

Relay4Autism runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is planned to be a full morning of activities. Walkers continuously will loop the designated path through the park to celebrate those affected by autism in Northwest Indiana.

In tandem with the relay, the township has reserved the splash pad for two hours. There also will be emergency vehicles on display as well as music, games, face-painting food trucks and a sensory calming area.

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The Relay4Autism event is another big step in creating a network -- and culture -- of safety for individuals with autism.

"We began this effort nearly two years ago. What we learned: Individuals with autism were at a unique disadvantage when it comes to interacting with public safety -- particularly police," Mrvan said. "When police say, 'Stop,' individuals with autism tend to do the opposite, making them vulnerable to police, who don't realize they are dealing with a special-needs individual and not a criminal."

On Saturday, the township and its partners will draw attention to autism spectrum disorder -- which affects 1 in 59 children born in the United States today -- and continue educating the community on safe steps.

"This outpouring of support for the Relay4Autism is making a difference in the lives of so many individuals," Mrvan said. "Our work here has really just begun."

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