The fourth annual New Canaan "All Out for Autism" 5K Walk/Run Road Race on Friday, Aug. 24, raised about $17,000 for children with special needs. This year's race will fund three community programs at the New Canaan YMCA.
About 500 adults and children participated in either the 5K race or the kids' fun run that preceded it, according to Ron Rosenfeld, owner of the New Balance store on Main Street and organizer of the events. Sponsors of the race, in addition to New Balance of New Canaan, included the nonprofit group SPED*NET New Canaan, the New Canaan YMCA, KARL Chevrolet, Joe's Pizza, Rosie, Walter Stewart's Market, Oxygen Fitness, Healthfair and C & H Auto.
Alan Wells of Orlando, Fla., was the overall winner, with a time of 16 minutes 48 seconds. Wells separated himself early from the pack and set a course record. He was followed by Jeff Watson of Stamford (17:39) and George Buchanan of Wilton (17:42). The top female racer was Olivia Hompe of New Canaan (20:17) , followed by Elizabeth Perry of New Canaan (22:09) and Kieley Gaston of Wilton (22:14).
"The fitness area at Waveny that our previous races helped to fund has proven to be a great addition to the New Canaan community, used by senior citizens, high school students and those with special needs. Everyone is talking about it, and it's grown to be more than we ever imagined," Rosenfeld said. "These new events at the YMCA will offer a terrific opportunity for people to get to know each other."
Judi Anders, president of the nonprofit SPED*NET and mother of a child with autism, said "There are currently about 500 students in the New Canaan public schools with an individual education plan, and nationally one in every 88 children born today is diagnosed with autism. It's the fastest-growing serious developmental disability."
Steve Karl, vice president of KARL Chevrolet, said events like the road race "highlight health, family fitness and community. The now-completed fitness area has added so much to the quality of life for many families in town, and we are looking forward to these new programs at the Y."
For more information visit www.AllOutforAutism.org.