ELLSWORTH, Maine — After taking a year off for the pandemic, Downeast Horizons’ annual Autism Awareness Walk-a-thon was held Tuesday in Ellsworth to assist families who are impacted by autism.
Organizers said the money raised helps people with autism participate in activities out in the community. Downeast Horizons Executive Director Tony Zambrano said by help funding those activities, those with autism can get more comfortable while they are out in strange environments and lead more normal lives.
Danielle Williams, a mother of two autistic children said, “We were so happy that the walk was going to continue this year and so as soon as it came up we knew we were going to be out here and walking rain or shine.”
Zambrano said the event is usually held in Bar Harbor but they decided not to have it there because the streets are narrow and they would have been clumped up too much so they held it in Ellsworth so they could spread people out more appropriately due to COVID.
Jonathan Morrison said he is autistic and has been participating in the walk for 16 years.
“I enjoy this as much as I enjoy the Special Olympics," Morrison said. “I am very honored that they’re raising money for people like me.”
“If you can help a kid who is, let’s say seven-years-old or four or we have some that are three, and you help them a little bit, sometimes you can change their whole life by making it so that they don’t need to have anything to worry about or they’re not going to have to struggle in the future,” Zambrano said. “So early intervention is key to making a difference in a child’s life.”
Zambrano said Downeast Horizons expects to raise about $5,000 from Tuesday's event.