Freeman hosts 5k and walk for Autism Awareness

JOPLIN, Mo. –Despite the rain, people of all ages lined up to run and walk a 5k to support the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism.

Edith Spera, Clinical Director for the Leffen Center says she’s excited about turnout after last year’s virtual race.

“We have record attendance this year, we have over 700 people that have registered, we have record fundraising numbers…but we’re really excited about the turnout despite the rain,” Spera said. 

The event raised money for the center’s program development and scholarship fund.

“It’s so impactful because it helps our families be able to support life-changing services that they might not otherwise be able to afford…We do applied behavior analysis here at the Leffin Center. We work on skills to help kids with socialization, communication, we reduce the challenging behaviors, we help with preparing a lot of our kids for entering the school districts,” Spera said.

One runner, Randy Cummings, had a more personal reason for running in today’s race and came out to support his loved ones with autism.

“I have a granddaughter who has autism and so for the support of autism and what it goes for  I just want to try and do the best I can do help out, so that’s why I come out today to run for my granddaughter and then I have a niece who has 2 children and both of them have autism,” said Cummings.

Although he’s an avid runner, Cummings said today was less about running and more about support for this cause.

“Anyways it’s just a privilege to come out and have fun and run for the Autism and support in the best way we can,” said Cummings.

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