Big strides for autism - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Big strides for autism

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Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2005 11:15 am | Updated: 9:22 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

April 5, 2005

Saturday will mark another positive stride in expanding autism awareness in the Valley.

Jason and Jessie Geroux of Apache Junction organized a walk to benefit the National Alliance for Autism Research. Autism, which is a complex developmental disorder, affects the social and communication skills of about 1 in 166 people in the United States.

Surprisingly, many Americans remain in the dark about the condition.

"A day doesn’t go by where I don’t walk by somebody who’s never heard of autism," Jessie Geroux said, "or their perception is off and they immediately think of ‘Rain Man.’ ’’

In 2003, the diagnosis of their son, Tyler, now age 4 1 /2 hit the Geroux family hard. However, it also inspired them to get involved, including the establishment of online support group

www.arizonaautism support.org.

After attending an autism conference last year in Washington, D.C., the couple began planning the walk. They expect about 2,000 walkers Saturday, and have so far raised more than $80,000.

Gilbert resident Renata Irving, a volunteer for the event’s steering committee, eagerly awaits Saturday’s walk. It’s an emotional moment for Irving, whose 15-year-old son, Sam, has defied autism’s odds for 10 years.

They formed a team called Sam’s Warriors, composed of friends and family as well as former teachers who reached out during his younger years.

"Some people have known him for years and have seen how much he’s grown," said Irving, who hopes research will find a cause or cure. "If we didn’t have hope, who knows where he would be."

Get involved

A walk to benefit the National Alliance for Autism Research will be Saturday at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1134 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. There is no registration fee. The event will include a band, firetruck, inflatable jumping bouncers, a rock wall and information on autism. For information, call (480) 293-4373 or visit www.autismwalk.org.

A couple of weeks ago, I chatted with Mesa resident Bill Egan about baseball’s steroid scandal. The subject turned toward our mutually beloved Chicago Cubs after I complimented his T-shirt.

He said he attended the last World Series game the Cubs won — Game 6 vs. the Detroit Tigers in 1945. He reemphasized the word "game" after seeing my mixed gaze of awe and confusion.

Egan was in high school at the time. The ticket for his bleacher seat cost a whopping 75 cents, he said. As anyone can guess, the Cubs still lost the series and haven’t been back since.

"They blew it,’’ he said. "And I’m still a Cub fan."

So have you been to any Cactus League games this spring?

"No," he said. "Too boring."

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