BELLAIRE The fourth annual Awesome Autism 5K run and walk is rapidly approaching, set for Saturday, Sept. 1.
The annual Labor Day weekend event serves as the primary fundraiser for the Parents for Autism Community Education (PACE) organization.
Co-founder and race organizer Dennis Delbert is hoping this year's race continues a trend that begin in 2010 that saw each successive race garner increased support and entrants.
DENNIS?DELBERT, the co-founder for the PACE?organization, is ready for the Awesome Autism 5K.
"We had 87 the first year, 188 the second and 300 last year," Delbert said. "We don't have as many signed up at this point as we did last year at the same time, but I'm hoping for a big push late along with race-day sign ups."
The cost to participate is $18 until race when the cost increased to $20 per participant.
Awards will be handed out for the Top 3 overall male and female runners and walkers, as well as the Top 3 in the master's division and age-group divisions.
T-shirts will be distributed to the first 300 registered entrants.
One aspect that's helped with registration is that the Awesome Autism 5K is part of The Health Plan Grand Prix race series.
"I think the grand prix has helped rekindle the interest of a lot of racers," Delbert stated. "It's brought people back into racing and has helped out tremendously some of the smaller races that were struggling to continue."
But for those lacking the racer's competitive spirit, the Awesome Autism 5K also appeals to its participants' desire to help out a charitable organization.
The money generated from the race enables PACE to host free educational seminars and clinics on Autism.
Twice a year, usually once during the fall and spring, PACE brings in speakers to conduct talks on Autism-related themes. It's been beneficial for parents, health care workers, first responders and educators in learning more about an affliction that seemingly keeps growing in frequency.
Delbert noted the fall seminar has not been finalized yet. The plans are still in the works.
As are his continued plans to bring in Dr. Temple Grandin, a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University and best selling author.
Grandin, who has a high-functioning form of autism, is noted for her work in being an advocate for a disorder many still struggle to understand.
"I've talked with Temple and she's interested in coming to one of our seminars, but she wants to tie it in with a regional trip where she's able to speak all over," Delbert said. "So she's going to get back with us when she has something solid planned."
Delbert noted that while PACE's events are usually twice a year, it will make an exception for when Grandin is ready to come to town, organizing a larger-scale event with her as the focal point.
For more information, call (740) 671-1982 or to register, stop at the Runner's Connection in Bellaire to pick up an application form or complete it online at www.active.com.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org