Local group hosts Autism & Special Needs Awareness Day at Heritage Park

W.C. Mann

Winners of the special needs walk display their medals and trophies.

CULLMAN – On Saturday, members of the Cullman Autism and Special Needs Family Support Group gathered at Heritage Park in Cullman for a fundraising 5K run and walk, and all around fun day.  There were balloons, clowns, face painting, inflatables and games.  The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, Flourish of Cullman, local churches and others manned booths around the park’s soccer fields.

Group founder Rhonda Davis shared, “This is the special needs awareness fun day.  We’re raising money for special needs: all families, all ages and disabilities are part of our group; and we help three or four different counties, including Cullman.  We have a lot of activities that are going on today, to benefit our future events and fun things we like to do for families.”

The Cullman Autism and Special Needs Family Support Group was founded in 2003 as an Autism support group, but expanded its membership to serve all special needs individuals, along with their families and caregivers.  (See our story at http://cullmansense.com/articles/2017/03/18/cullman-group-supports-families-special-needs.)

Davis also talked about some of the group’s partners in service, “We have some new programs in Cullman that have just started.  We have Flourish of Cullman, that helps adults with special needs with social skills and getting out in the community, job training, job coaching, life coaching.  We have men’s groups, ladies’ groups, social groups.  We have Vocational Rehab here, that’s a regional promoter for adults with special needs, as well.  Encore Rehab has always been great for physical and outpatient therapy for special needs individuals; they’re represented here.  Lots of businesses have promoted and sponsored us.  We really appreciate what they do for us.”

After the walk, the group issued medals to the top special needs individuals who participated:

  • Baylin Sherell
  • Tyson Sandlin
  • Christy Brown
  • Brad Lamar
  • Jordan Davis
  • Ella Bates

Afterward, the top fundraisers and team spirit winners (those who signed up the largest teams) received trophies.  Jordan Davis and Ella Bates traded places in the two categories:

  • Fundraising: Jordan Davis, first; Ella Bates, second
  • Team Spirit: Ella Bates, first with 23 team members; Jordan Davis, second with 18 team members

The group was also hoping to garner support for upcoming Alabama House Bill 284, which would require health insurance coverage for applied behavioral analysis, a primary treatment for children with Autism.  Alabama is one of only five states without such coverage requirements.  The bill comes up for a vote this Wednesday, Apr. 12.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page http://qrne.ws/support.

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