Hundreds turn out for 9th annual eastern run/walk for autism

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Statistics show more than 65-thousands people live with autism in North Carolina

Families were out Saturday for the annual eastern run/walk for autism.

They want to raise awareness for the disorder, but also say it was a chance to bring out their concerns for the future.

“Our shirt says autism is his superpower but Ziggy is our superhero,” said Ashanti Williams. She has a son with autism and called their team, ‘Team Ziggy’

Team Ziggy is just one of the dozens of families participating in the 9th annual eastern run/walk for autism

“They are super smart and people underestimate them and overlook them and are afraid of them because they have a label, but they are just as happy and regular as anybody else,” added Williams.

She said from the moment she knew her child had autism, she was scared.

“I was like my child is going to be stereotyped for the rest of his life,” said Williams.

But soon realized she has a great support system, in her family and community, like the holler family.

“Autism affect 4 out of our 5 daughters,” said Katie Holler. “I want them to have pride in themselves for whom they are that they are not just a diagnosis that they are an individual with a very special talented gifts to give to the world.”

These gifts are reasons why Williams said she isn’t scared of autism anymore.

However, the debate over the current healthcare bill is a little scary.

“A lot of families out here have to rely on Medicaid because a lot of your individual insurance companies do not cover mental health,” said Williams.

“If I can’t have the medication to treat myself or go seek help then I might become a danger to myself or others in the community,” she added.

Both families understand it can be a long road ahead, but the saying, “Different not less”  keeps them on the right track.

The Williams and Holler families said this is a great opportunity to bring their children around other children with autism.

They want more events and opportunities in eastern North Carolina to help their kids realize their disabilities don’t disable them.

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