Autism walk raises awareness and funds

Karen Long is all about the kids.

A mother of 18-year-old triplets, she works at P.S. 232 and is PTA president at the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture and at the Robert H. Goddard High School 308.

And because she is so involved, she was able to get kids involved – 126, to be exact, who walked 15 laps around Goddard on Thursday, April 14 to raise $2,045 for Autism.

All the proceeds went to New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC).

“April is Autism Awareness Month,” explained Long. “I wanted to do something for Pamela and Andrew [Baumann, founders of the organization].”

The relationship among the three is multi-tiered and goes back to when Long’s son was five years old.

Robert, one of the triplets, is autistic and has been a member of NYFAC for 13 years. His brother, Nicholas, just became his NYFAC case worker.

“I found Andrew when my son was little and we’ve been friends ever since,” said Long, whose idea, a charity car wash, has become an annual fundraiser for NYFAC.

“Karen is amazing,” said Baumann. “The staff of the high school was very supportive, the kids were fantastic. I almost cried at how much these kids wanted to help.”

Long agreed.

“The principal was very excited and the parent coordinator really helped me out,” she said.

And when Baumann did an assembly at the school before the walk-a-thon, “the pledges just came coming in.”

But more than just a fundraiser, the event, said Long, was meant to be educational and to dispel the misconceptions she feels still surround autism.

And, following the walk, two students asked to volunteer at NYFAC.

“It was very touching,” said Long. “It tells me people do care and they do understand. And if you can get one kid to listen and connect with, you’ve succeeded.”

The NYFAC wash for Autism this year will be on July 17. To learn more or to help out, visit nyfac.org.