On the morning of Saturday, June 16th, running enthusiasts and autism advocates gathered at Firestone Stadium in Akron to celebrate the Autism Society of Greater Akron’s (ASGA) eighth annual Autism 5k Run and Walk. The event brought individuals and families together to raise autism awareness and funds that support ASGA programs.
Andrew’s Heroes of Macedonia won awards for largest fundraising team and best t-shirt design. Kevin Hazlett (30) of Akron won the overall 5k run with a time of 17:32, and Theresa Hagey (15) of Akron was the top female runner with a time of 19:18. Carl Kondrach (46) of Barnesville, Ohio won the competitive 5k walk with a time of 29:31, and Sarah Donley (35) of Bethesda, Ohio was the top female walker with a time of 34:19.
“The Autism 5k Run and Walk is always a huge party and celebration of the autism journey. It’s a time we see our family, friends, neighbors and professionals come together to say “We’re here and we support you.” It means so much to everyone to see the community support of this event,” said Laurie Cramer, Executive Director of ASGA.
“This fundraiser is also vital to maintaining our programs in the Greater Akron community. In 2017 alone, the 5k accounted for a third of the organization’s budget. Most of our programs would not be possible without the support we receive each year at the walk. With about 17,000 people in the Greater Akron area living with autism, it is a more impactful event than most of our attendees even imagine,” Cramer added.
Within the stadium, children were entertained by inflatables, face painting, a petting zoo, a fun run around the infield bases, and appearances from Captain America, Wonder Woman and Star Wars characters. In the streets surrounding Firestone Stadium, 5k runners and walkers competed along the Wilbeth Trailhead Towpath while families demonstrated their support with a one mile fun walk along Wilbeth Road.
Contributions from sponsors, local businesses and individual donors helped make the fundraiser, which raised over $105,000 for ASGA’s programs, a massive success once again. In 2017, the Autism 5k Run and Walk was voted “Best Local 5k” by readers of Akron Life Magazine.
Firestone Stadium was a first-time host to the event, which took place at Lock 3 in Akron over the past seven years. Dr. William Lanzinger, Chairman of the Board at ASGA and chairman of the event committee, declared the move a success.
“Joey Arrietta, President and General Manager of Firestone Stadium, was wonderful to work with and everyone had a great time at the new venue. We look forward to doing it again on June 15th next year,” he said. “The stadium is a beautiful, historic venue and was very accommodating for how engaging we wanted the event to be for our families.”
For full results of the 2018 Autism 5k Run and Walk, visit https://hub.enmotive.com/events/2018-autism-5k-run-walk/results
Pictured: Team Andrew's Heroes of Macedonia, winner of largest fundraising team and t-shirt design contest