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Thousands Raised at Autism Awareness Run/Walk

April is national autism awareness month.  In honor of that and those affected by the disorder, more than 300 people took part in the second annual Autism Awareness 5K Run and One Mile Walk at Lucy Park.
    The hundreds of participants in the Autism Awareness 5K Run and One Mile Walk hoped each step they took peeled away another misconception about the disorder and educated the public about those who are affected.
    Jessica Bailey, who's with Wichita Falls Autism Awareness, says, "It affects things like your social ability where you have a hard time speaking, your speech, your cognitive development, things like that."
    Mark McCloskey, who participated in the walk, says, "We're here for my son, Payten.  He's three-years-old.  He was diagnosed with autism about a year ago."
    Mark says he and his wife had many questions about the disorder their son was diagnosed with.
    "Is he going to be able to lead a normal childhood?  Is he going to have regular friends?"
    Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show autism is more prevalent than originally thought.
    "New statistics now are one in 88.  Everybody's familiar with the old statistics of one in 110 or one in 70 boys.  It's now as many as one in 54 boys," Bailey says.
    Thanks to programs like Wichita Falls Autism Awareness, Mark and his wife learned what autism is and learned how to communicate with Payten and help with his needs
    "He's really progressed well.  His communication has increased incredibly.  He's been able to tell us the things he needs and those type of things."
    All the money raised through the autism awareness run and walk benefits Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy program which funds research in causes, treatments, and cures for the disorder.
    And thanks to the hundreds of participants, organizers say more than $5-thousand will be donated to Autism Speaks.
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