Thirteen hundred walkers and runners stepped up for autism for Little Friends’ second annual “Step Up for Autism” fundraising walk.
Volunteers covered two and a half miles to raise money for Little Friends’ programs benefitting people with autism, and some of the walk participants have been traveling autism’s road for a lifetime.
Tim Feldman is one of the 1.5 million people in this country affected by autism. He lives in Naperville with his parents Joe and Mary Ellen Feldman.
The Feldmans are local pioneers of sorts: they fought autism when it was not much talked about. This was a time when the neurological disorder affected only one in ten thousand children.
“We moved out to Naperville by a recommendation of Children’s Memorial Hospital about 35 years ago. Tim was diagnosed with autism then and nobody knew what autism was,” said Joe Feldman.
“Years ago, we thought we were the only ones,” said Mary Ellen Feldman.
Tim attended school at Little Friends Inc. Now, more than three decades later all 75 members of Tim’s team, including family and friends, raise awareness and money to support other families at Little Friends Inc.
President of Little Friends, Inc Jack Ryan explained why the walk is important, “They are our children, our brothers and sisters and neighbors. We love them.”
In addition to raising money for Little Friends, Inc. , Ryan says the walk’s goal is to also raise awareness about autism. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in America, and now it affects one in every 110 children.
Tim Feldman’s brothers and sisters know how that struggle affects the entire family.
“You start off as a child with autism and you go through some good times and some bad times. You can really live a wonderful life, and Tim is an example of that,” said Tim’s sister, Mary Carole Prasse.
Tim’s team raised more than nine thousand dollars for Little Friends Inc, and the rain didn’t dampen their spirits
“Tim is the heart of our team and “It’s me Timmy” resonates with everyone in our family and our extended family,” said Prasse.
The Feldmans know even after the walkers and runners finish, families still need encouragement for their own journeys through autism.
“Everybody says the cure is right around the corner and we want to turn that corner,” said Joe Feldman.
Step Up for Autism raised more than $120,000 dollars for Little Friends Inc.
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