Autism Awareness Walk returns later this year but with same focus

PLATTSBURGH - It's an event that's been five years in the making.

The fifth annual Autism Awareness Walk will be held at the PARC Oval on the city's south side Saturday, Oct. 2. The walk has traditionally been held in April in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month, however difficulties in finding time to organize the event for April was difficult this year, said organizer Laura Carmichael.

"It was a difficult year for my son, particularly," said Carmichael, whose 8-year-old son has the developmental disorder. "And, we're all volunteers so it's sometimes tough to find time."

The change in the month of the walk this year doesn't mean those behind the event are any less serious, noted Carmichael. Hundreds of hours have gone into planning the walk and other events surrounding it, like a recent yard sale, movie night at Cumberland 12 Cinemas and an upcoming softball tournament.

"We're hoping [the other events] help promote the walk a bit more," said Carmichael, who credited people like Lisa Briscoe and other faithful volunteers for putting on such events.

Briscoe, who organized a yard sale to benefit the walk during the recent Point Au Roche Yard Sales, said she developed a passion for working with children on the autism spectrum through her work as an occupational therapy assistant at Champlain Valley Educational Services. However, autism is something that has also touched her life personally, she said.

"Autism runs in my family," explained Briscoe, "so, I've seen and experienced first hand the difficulties of living with autism."

Though she has volunteered at the Autism Awareness Walk for the past several years, Briscoe said she decided to take a more active role in the event this year by becoming a member of the walk's planning committee and hosting the yard sale. It was simply because she believes in the cause of raising money to help local families struggling with autism.

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