Organizers expected more than 8,000 people to participate in Sunday's Autism Speaks Walk Orange County at Angel Stadium, raising funds to support research, programs, and services helping those impacted by autism.
The 3.1-mile walk started at 10:15 a.m. and included child-friendly activities, live performances and a resource fair with vendors and autism service providers. The event was organized by Autism Speaks Southern California, which hoped to raise more than $275,000, according to executive director Suzette Martinez.
By early Sunday, nearly $195,000 had been raised.
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Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization.
Since its founding in 2005 by then-NBC chairman and CEO Bob Wright and his wife Suzanne, Autism Speaks has committed more than $570 million to fund research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families, according to the organization.
Suzanne Wright, who died in July, and her husband are grandparents of a child with autism.
Autism Speaks' goals for the next 10 years include making significant progress for:
- a better understanding of the causes and typology of autism spectrum disorder;
- children with an autism spectrum disorder being diagnosed before the age of 2;
- children having access to appropriate intervention, services and resources immediately following diagnosis;
- the availability of better treatments both for underlying pathology as well as co-existing conditions that decrease quality of life for those with autism;
- people with autism spectrum disorders and their families having transition plans that result in more independent adult life that is meaningful to the individual; and
- individuals with autism spectrum disorders will have effective interventions, services and supports throughout their lifetimes.
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. One in 68 children is on the autism spectrum, according to Autism Speaks.