Runners brave through storms for autism spectrum disorder


Tears of joy fell down Chanda Montague’s face as she saw all the people who braved the storm to come to the fifth annual Superheroes for Autism 5K Run/Walk.
To Montague, the Superheroes for Autism Walk event coordinator, this meant more to her than most because her nephew, Ryan Ellis, has autism spectrum disorder.
Montague said that she and Ryan’s mother, Amy Ellis, noticed that there weren’t many organizations to raise awareness about autism, and they decided to change that.
“Amy loves 5K’s, and we asked Ryan who his favorite superhero was. He said, ‘Superman,’ so we decided to become superheroes for autism,” Montague said.
Montague’s dream of raising awareness about ASD was made possible with organizations like the Autism Center of Family Solutions and The Behavior Train who have helped sponsor the Superheroes for Autism Walk.
Keyanna Gayden, an employee for The Behavior Train, said that having the Superheroes for Autism Walk helps people break stereotypes about those with ASD.
“When a lot of people think of autistic children, they think of kids who don’t have any type of social skills, but a lot of kids just need someone to work with them one on one. I hate when people push autistic children to the side and think they will never be able to function in the real world,” Gayden said.
Mollie Cline said she learns something new everyday from those who have ASD.
“These kids are so unique and each one is so different. They teach us every day how to be more patient, to engage with others, how to get outside our comfort zones and be able to join them and their world and what they are going through,” said Cline, the clinical director for pediatric therapy of Family Solutions.
At the Superheroes for Autism Walk, there were over 20 booths from around the area that helped sponsor the event, according to Montague.
Each booth had fun activities to do like washable tattoos, stickers, games and sensory buckets.
Cline said that she was glad that the Autism Center of Family Solutions were able to bring a fun booth with “sensory buckets” filled with items like colored spaghetti, sensory balls and puzzle pieces to paint.
For the past few years, this event has been held at Kiroli Park, but due to the rain, the event was moved to Ike Hamilton Expo Center.
However, Montague said that even the rain did not stop people from running for those with autism.
“The people out there running in the rain are awesome because that shows they are going through obstacles of the rain just like our superheroes do every day,” Montague said.
Montague also said that every year, this event has raised over $45,000 for Families Helping Families of NELA which is a resource center that serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.