The fifth annual Jack’s Run/Walk for Autism is set for Saturday, May 14. The 5K race, which raises money for the Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism – NSSA – starts at 9 a.m. with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. at .
“One in 70 children is affected with autism,” said Michael Miranda, a partner in Mineola-based law firm Miranda Sambursky Slone Sklarin Verveniotis, which is sponsoring the event. “When we got involved in this it was one in a hundred.”
The walk was named after Miranda’s nephew Jack Miranda who is severely autistic and a student at the Martin C. Barell School, run by NSSA.
“The race was started as an effort to raise awareness of autism,” Miranda said. “The NSSA provides wonderful services for autistic children and adults and their families.”
NSSA is a non-profit organization that was incorporated in 1983, said Connie Grassle, the race's development coordinator.
NSSA provides educational programs, Saturday recreational programs, summer camps, and adult services programs and acts as a consultant for school districts across Long Island, Grassle said. The money raised by Jack’s Run/Walk supports programs that serve people with autism. NSSA receives funding from New York State Department of Education as well as Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.
“We have to do private fundraising to offset the actual cost of running a program of this nature,” Grassle said.
NSSA also provides support to families of people with autism.
“We instruct a family,” Grassle said. “We teach them how to help their child learn and to help them grow. Autism affects communication. We teach families how to face the challenges in learning to communicate and social interaction. We help families help these children and adults grow to be as independent as they possibly can and be less dependent people as they grow up.”
The event raised more than $50,000 last year, and organizers hope to achieve that or more this year.
“We felt like it was important to give back to the Autistic community,” Miranda said. “Especially with state funding on the decline. We thought the Run/Walk would be a great way to get people aware of autism and give them an opportunity to enjoy the benefit of exercise.”
There are many things to look for at this year’s event.
Mr. Met, the New York Mets mascot, will be on hand as well as the New York Islanders Mascot, Sparky. There will be a castle-bounce set up for kids and raffle for a basketball signed by former New York Knicks player Walt Clyde Frazier. Trophies will be given for all age groups and there will be a trophy for the top finisher. T-shirts will be distributed to everyone who registers.
The race will take place along the water the park. Walking is encouraged. Registration is $25 the day of the race and $20 online. Visit www.firstgiving.com/nssa to register.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to include the correct web address to register for Jack’s Run/Walk for Autism.