Race/walk to benefit UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The third annual STAR 5K Race/Walk benefitting the University of Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities will be held Saturday.
The event will take place at Westside Park on the corner of Northwest 34th Street and Northwest Eighth Avenue. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race/walk will begin at 9 a.m. The event is sponsored by the Eastside High School Students Together for Autism Research.
All of the proceeds from the walk will be used to provide support for children and adults with autism and related disabilities in Gainesville and the surrounding communities.
Greg Valcante, director of the UF autism center, said the purpose of the event is to raise community awareness and to help offset the center’s budget cuts. Valcante said this event could have a great impact on the community and the services the center can provide. About 400 participants helped to raise $8,000 last year.
“The rate of autism is increasing, there are over 1,700 individuals with autism and related disabilities in North Central Florida who are clients of our Center, and there are many more whom we haven’t reached yet. It’s an outreach opportunity for public education and awareness,” Valcante said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of autism and the number is on the rise. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies, autism is growing at a startling rate of 10 to 17 percent per year. It is believed that autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade.
For more information or to pre-register please visit www.card.ufl.edu/starautismwalk.