Local running store hosts Labor Day race in support of autism nonprofit


Local running store hosts Labor Day race in support of autism nonprofit

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By Quincey Reese, Tribune Review

Autism Connection of PA, a Pittsburgh nonprofit, has a “huge mission and a limited budget,” said Director of Operations Tammi Morton.

So fundraising events like the Labor Day Run for Autism are vital.

Gingerbread Man Running Co., a store for runners with locations in Indiana and Greensburg, has hosted the Run for Autism benefiting the nonprofit since 2018. Since its first year, the event has raised about $18,000 to $20,000 for the nonprofit.

Autism Connection of PA receives about 250 calls a month from families and adults who are on the autism spectrum asking for support and advocacy. Founded in 1996, the nonprofit connects families and individuals across the state with resources — including email and phone support, autism news and sensory-friendly activities. It also offers training and presentations to community groups.

The Run for Autism features a half marathon, 10k and 5k. Each race is held on the Five Star Trail, a roughly 8-mile long trail spanning from Youngwood, near Westmoreland County Community College, to Lynch Field in Greensburg.

Morton said about 50 people attend the event each year. She always looks forward to seeing “that sense of community” on race day.

“Getting connected with Autism Connection (of PA) is a great way to understand autism as a spectrum, and it really informs how (people with autism) present differently,” Morton said. “(For those on the spectrum) it’s kind of letting go of a feeling of isolation and a feeling of being ‘other’ and different, and really just being part of the community.”

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