Running For A Cause

Event Aims To Raise Money, Spread Awareness Of Autism

Posted: April 8, 2013

Racers head out from the starting line on Park Road at a 5K run/walk for autism on Saturday. Roughly 1,000 Shenandoah Valley residents gathered for the event at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg to raise money for the Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
James May holds his daughter Eleanor, 21 months, as they watch for his wife Allison in the race on Saturday.
Men’s winner Patrick Earl heads for a first place on Saturday.
Hannah Brickse, a JMU grad student won the women’s race Saturday.

HARRISONBURG — Roughly nine years ago, Jenny Hummel’s life changed forever.


Doctors told her that her 3-year-old son, Jacob, had autism, a developmental disorder that often affects individuals’ communication skills.


“At 3 years old, we didn’t know if he’d be able to talk,” said Hummel, 40, of Weyers Cave. “We’ve come a long way from where we started. Now, [Jacob has] mainstreamed in a regular classroom at school.”


Hummel was among roughly 1,000 Shenandoah Valley residents to gather at Eastern Mennonite University Saturday morning for a 5K walk/run to raise money for the Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership.


She said a big part of her 12-year-old son’s success can be attributed to the help she received from SVAP, a volunteer group of parents and professionals who network together to share ideas about treating Autism.


Bridgewater resident Karen McCormick has served as SVAP’s president for the past five years.


She got involved with the organization when her 7-year-old son, Cole, was diagnosed with autism.


“It’s very challenging,” she said. “Every child with autism is a little bit different.”


Proceeds from the 5K go to help children living with the disability.


Organizers anticipated that about $25,000 would be raised at this year’s event. That money will be used for educating the public about autism and to provide scholarships.


Scholarships of up to $500 can be used in a variety of ways. In recent years, money has been used to help send children to speech camp and to build a fence at a home with an autistic child who likes to wander.


Amy Brown, 42, of Staunton, participated in this year’s run. Her son, Hayden, 7, has received a scholarship in the past to attend speech camp.


She said it’s amazing seeing the community’s support. She said she hopes the event helps others learn about autistic children.


“Every child is different,” she said. “You don’t meet a kid with the same disability.”


Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or

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