PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — To get out, enjoy some fresh air and raise money for a good cause, head over to LMCU Ballpark — home of the Whitecaps — in Comstock Park on Sunday for the annual Walk for Autism.
It’s the largest fundraiser of the year for Autism Support of Kent County.
The need is great, according to Pam Liggett, the organization’s executive director.
“There was a new statistic that came out in March, and one in 36 children are now being diagnosed with autism,” Liggett said. “So it’s rare that someone might not know somebody with autism at this point.”
Liggett attributed the higher diagnosis rate to better awareness of autism.
“We believe that it’s a good thing that children are getting diagnosed (and) getting early intervention,” she said. “We work a lot on independence, communication and social skills so that those individuals can go and have a productive and healthy life.”
The money raised on Sunday will be used to fund programs and services for families affected by autism in West Michigan.
The resources vary depending on the needs of the person with autism.
“There are varying degrees of autism. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means that everyone is affected differently,” Liggett said. “Someone may be affected in a way that you might not even know they have autism, and another person may be a non-verbal individual with some behaviors that are tough to manage sometimes. So there definitely is a spectrum and different ways that autism affects a person.”
At the event, walkers will enjoy a stroll around the ball field — but there’s a lot planned in addition to the walk. There will be games, crafts, kids’ activities, surprise visitors, lunch and a resource fair. There was even an online silent auction.
The 2023 Walk for Autism will run from noon until 3 p.m. Sunday. Over 600 people are expected to attend.
For more information, visit Autism Support of Kent County’s website or Facebook page.