Third annual Step Up for Autism walk to be held September 22

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Crystal and Aaron Peelman and their son Mason pose at the 2011 Step Up for Autism. Mason is on the autism spectrum, so each year his parents put together a team to participate in the walk. The Peelmans have been the event’s most successful fund-raisers, collecting more than $3,500 in donations through their online fund-raising page during the past three years.

JAMESTOWN – Plans are under way for the third annual Step Up for Autism walk, to be held Saturday, September 22, in Celoron. The event is being coordinated by The Resource Center and TRC Foundation with support from parents and village officials.

The event will begin and end at The Resource Center’s Administrative Offices at 200 Dunham Avenue. Participants will walk to Lucille Ball Memorial Park on the shore of Chautauqua Lake, then return to The Resource Center (a total distance of about 1.5 miles) for food, children’s activities, a Chinese auction, a cake auction and prize drawings.

Step Up for Autism was created after local parents lamented that there was no social skills training available in Chautauqua County for children with autism spectrum disorders. So in 2010, The Resource Center established SUCCESS (which stands for Supporting, Understanding, Changing, Coping, and Everyday Social Skills), a program that helps children and young adults with autism learn social skills to enable them to better interact with the world around them.

Proceeds raised through Step Up for Autism support the SUCCESS Program. Money raised through Step Up for Autism also is used to provide scholarships for children to attend The Resource Center’s Sibshop, a support group for young siblings of children with autism and other disabilities.

In addition to raising money for the SUCCESS Program and Sibshop, Step Up for Autism provides an opportunity for community members to show their support for people with autism by taking part in the walk.

The suggested entry fee is $20, but contributions of any amount will be accepted – organizers just want to have a huge turnout. Those paying the $20 registration fee will receive a 2012 Step Up for Autism T-shirt and lunch the day of the event.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m., with the walk scheduled to start at about 10:15.

There also is an opportunity for people to earn prizes for themselves by raising money online for Step Up for Autism. People raising $50 will receive a R-shirt and lunch the day of the event. Additional prizes range from a $20 gift card for raising $150 for Step Up for Autism, to a $100 gift card if you raise $550. For more information or to create your personal fund-raising web page, visit www.firstgiving.com/trcfoundation.

For more information or to register, phone 483-2344 or visit the web site – www.stepupforautism.com.