Tyler autism run treads support from Greek students, community

Published on Patriot Talon (http://www.patriottalon.com)

Tyler autism run treads support from Greek students, community

By ljohnson
Created Apr 23 2012 – 11:48pm
The University’s Greek Life showed their support for autism education by volunteering at the Tyler Run for Autism.

Members from Greek organizations came out to raise awareness for disorder by passing out medals at the finish line and working at a bounce house at the run.

“Service is a big part of what we represent,” said Austin Castleberry, senior psychology major and Pi Kappa Phi member. “When Alison (Sterken, head of the Treatment and Learning Center and the Tyler Run for Autism) first told me about the event, I was thrilled to help get my brothers involved and give back to the community”

Held April 14, the Tyler Run for Autism included a 5 kilometer run followed by a fun run. More than 400 runners came out to show their support for the children and their families.

All proceeds raised by the event will be used for scholarships for present and future children who attend the Treatment and Learning Center for Children with Autism.

“These scholarships will help provide the children with 35 hours a week of intensive one-on-one applied behavior analysis therapy which specifically targets communication and social and behavioral interaction” Sterken said.

The responsibility of paying for such a treatment falls on the shoulders of parents and guardians because “most insurance companies don’t cover the cost” she said. The cost for one-on-one therapy can be expensive and she said financial help is difficult to come by.

“The community should be able to help that family and support emotionally, empathetically or even financially if need be.” Castleberry said.

Since several families lost their funding due to unforeseen circumstances, parents and the community have been fundraising so these children can continue attending the Center.

“So far we have raised 30,000 dollars to help cover the cost,” Sterken said.

The scholarship money raised from the Tyler Run for Autism will help the children to continue their education and therapy.

“Students can get involved by devoting time to help out with events such as the run or by even just attaining more knowledge about autism so they can gain a better understanding and realize that people with autism are still people too,” Castleberry said. “Many families could really use the support and giving back is the best way to do it.”

University students can continue raising awareness even after the run by simply spreading information about autism.

“With autism rates on the rise, it’s very important to help these kids through early intervention and by use of (applied behavior analysis) therapy to ensure they can lead a normal life,” Castleberry said. “Autism affects 1 out of every 80 children and we can’t just ignore it.”

With this in mind, Greek Life set out to make sure they didn’t ignore the need to raise awareness.

At the end of run, members from multiple Greek organizations stood beside the families and friends of participants to cheer on everyone who came to support the cause.