Bucks County Herald

Autism Cares Foundation hosts Race for Resources

DEBRA WALLACE



Participants take off in the Race for Resources.

On a crisp autumn day, nearly 2,000 participants geared up to raise money and awareness at the Autism Cares Foundation’s eighth annual Race for Resources.

The event held at Bucks County Community College, on Saturday, Nov. 4, was a fun and memorable time, in which heart-felt connections between the families and the greater Bucks County community were being made everywhere on the picturesque campus.

Stretching from the starting horn to the finishing line was a sea of brightly-colored T-shirts adorned with the names of the 61 fundraising teams worn by local family members and their supporters, a clear sign of the wide-spread enthusiasm for the Race for Resources.

A broad section of the community, including 100 volunteers, was there to raise money and to spread the vital message of acceptance, love and inclusion. They also came to support a better life for children, teens, and adults with autism, and other special needs, and their families.

There was a 5K, 10K, Family Walk and Autism Expo, as well as family-friendly activities: face painting, a video game bus, a bounce maze and lots of mouth-watering refreshments.

CBS3 news anchor Jim Donovan served as the master of ceremonies and said he was proud to introduce the Autism Cares Foundation’s Glee Club, which performed the National Anthem. The Autism Expo tent featured 27 vendors to help families who are caring for their loved ones with autism and other special needs.

“Looking around today, this is an emotional experience. I am blown away by all of this support,” said Frank Kuepper, co-founder and president of the Autism Cares Foundation. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished. This crowd gives us so much inspiration and invigorates us to do more, and we know that there is so much more that needs to be done.”

The nonprofit Autism Cares Foundation was started by Frank Kuepper and his wife, Linda, after their younger son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism before his third birthday.

Instead of helplessly standing by and watching their son be left out of birthday parties and other social events, they decided to establish a nonprofit that provides a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment where Michael and other children, teens, and adults with special needs are able to socialize, learn, grow, and thrive together.

To date, the Autism Cares Foundation has held more than 1,000 events, social programs and life enrichment opportunities, which have benefited more than 900 local families. In addition to offering 200 free annual activities and programs, the Autism Cares Foundation is expanding its offerings.

“We are now serving 30 clients in the Adult Services Division,” said Race Chairman Fred Sciacia, “and we are looking forward to expanding the program next year to include home and community services and supported employment.”

A luncheon for the participants was provided by race sponsors the Bloomin’ Group, which includes Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill.

One of the teams, the Kuepper family’s Team, Special K, was raring to go, and Michael, now 19, was front and center, enjoying the high-energy and enthusiasm of the crowd.

“It is truly inspirational to see everyone coming together to support our worthy cause,” Linda Kuepper said. “We have built long-lasting friendships, and we are here for each other.”

For information on donating or getting involved, visit raceforresources.org, autismcaresfoundation.org or call 215-942-2273.

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