FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Centers for Disease and Control reports autism affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, and costs families on average $6,000 a year.
More than 400 supporters, families and friends participated in Pacing for Pieces 5k and half marathon Saturday morning in Florence to raise awareness, including a group of three competing on three wheels.
Taylor, Maria and Kiley all are a part of Ainsley’s Angels of America. They were all born with special needs but their condition doesn’t stop them from doing what they love most.
Florence native Taylor Parrott was born premature and with cerebral palsy. He was also the first ride along athlete in the state for Ainsley’s Angels.
“He really likes running and like to see me go out and run so I said would you like for me to push you and he said yes I sure would,” said Chip Parrott.
Taylor and his two friends are united by autism, but held together by friendship.
“I haven’t seen this many wheel chairs since I got involved,” said Maria Meredith.
Meredith was born with a mitochondrial disorder that affects different parts of the body including her ears and eyes. But she didn’t let that stop her from picking the color of her custom made racing chair.
“The yellow is for what I can see and the blue is for what I could see when I was younger,” Meredith said.
A great cause to inspire other autistic children nearby.
“We know that there is a community out there, a lot of people with exceptional needs that would love to experience inclusion and to feel the wind in their face,” mentioned Mike Warner, Coastal Ambassador for Ainsley’s Angels.
Pacing for Pieces was inspired by Amy Pennington, treasurer of the Autism Advocacy Group of Florence, and her husband, John, who are increasing autism awareness in Florence.
Last year organizers say the race brought in a little over $20,000. This year they expect that number to be even greater.
Organizers say they will continue to host the race each year to raise enough funds to build a resource center in Florence in the next three year for families who have children with autism.
The money is also planned to go toward supplying Florence with job coaches for older ASD children and adding a therapy called talking turns. Talking turns focuses on socialization for ASD children; it teaches how to carry a conversation, communicate with parents and peers, and to take turns.