Saturday, March 17, is a significant day but for more reasons than just shamrocks this year. The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida (CARD-USF) is partnering with Oakstead Elementary School in Land O’ Lakes to host the Spring Sprint for Autism 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk.
The race is aimed at raising funds for two great causes. First, the groups want to promote awareness within the community about autism and other related diseases and how they affects the lives of all it touches. Additionally, funds raised will go to stimulate the physical education programs in the area. This the second year for the event and the promoters are looking for community participation to make it a success.
CARD-USF offers support, training and services for agencies, service providers and families touched by autism and other related disabilities at no charge. Moreover, the support provided by the race allows CARD to expand the program to reach more people through public events and special projects. The Chair of the CARD-USF Constituency Board, Tiffany Sotelo, shares her feelings on the event by saying, “When you first receive that diagnosis it is a mix of emotions; Relief to finally know what you are dealing with followed by a fear of the unknown… What happens next? Will my child have a quality life? Is the world going to accept his differences? And then you find CARD and it’s almost as if the sun has come out for the first time. They don’t ask for money or require you enroll in costly courses but they do offer a shoulder, encouragement, training and resources. Then they go into my community and educate my child’s teachers and the businesses we frequent so that the awareness comes full circle. I have a child on the autismspectrum, his name is Joe, he is 7 years old and because of CARD-USF his future is looking pretty bright! We count on CARD and CARD counts on community support like the Spring Sprint for Autism. Joey and I will see you at the finish line!”
The race starts near the Shoppes at Sunlake Centre on Sunlake Boulevard in Land O’Lakes. The Spring Sprint is certified and will be chip timed. Start time for the 5K is 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. for the 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk. Onsite registration will be available the day of for $25 per person for the 5K and $20 per person for the 1-mile event starting at 6 a.m. at Rasmussen College at 54 and Sunlake Blvd. There will be a DJ, food, fun and even a visit from Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco!
Many times it is hard to know where the funds raised will be going but this race is not one of those. I hope that many people can come out to support these great causes—I know I will be there!