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Frostbite 5K to help families dealing with autism

It's time to start warming up for the inaugural Frostbite 5K for Autism, set for Jan. 28 at the North Park Boathouse on Pearce Mill Road in McCandless.

The cost to run the race is $25, or $20 for those who register by Saturday. Children younger than 5 can join in the fun for free. Proceeds benefit the Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders, or ABOARD.

The race is the brainchild of T.J. Burke, 26, who started working as an autism therapist in 2006 while going to school for law enforcement. Burke said he was trying to think of a way to get more involved with the community and to raise awareness of autism when he thought of the run.

"Let's do something fun; let's put a race together," Burke said of his idea.

Luciana Randall, executive director of ABOARD, said she admires Burke because he has no close relations who have autism, but is still active in the cause.

"He's a really great role model," she said.

Burke of the North Side started working as a "wraparound" with children with autism at St. Anthony's Point Inc.-St. Michael's Harbour Inc. in Hermitage. Wraparound is a service delivered in home and in community settings featuring behavior and mobile counseling services, said Randall of Monroeville.

Even after being hired by the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department in 2009, he did wraparound part time and worked as a trainer advocate for adults with Asperger's syndrome until earlier this year.

Now a private security agent for State Security and Investigation Services in Pittsburgh, Burke is an eighth-grade boys basketball coach for Community Day School in Squirrel Hill. He works part time in security at UPMC Passavant in McCandless.

Burke said he contacted ABOARD about the fundraiser because the organization not only helps children with autism and their families but those dealing with other related disorders, too.

ABOARD is a statewide nonprofit organization, with much of its activity in Western Pennsylvania. Its goal is to "help those with autism to achieve their maximum social, educational and vocational potential," along with offering support, education and information resources, according to the group's website.

As far as the weather is concerned, the Frostbite 5K will go on rain or shine or snow.

"I'll be running if there's a whiteout," Burke said.

Additional Information:

If you go

What: Frostbite 5K for Autism:

When : Jan. 28. Registration starts at 8 a.m., and the race at 10 a.m.

Where : North Park Boathouse, Pearce Mill Road, McCandless

Cost : $20 by Saturday or $25 after. Children younger than 5 may participate for free. Race T-shirts are guaranteed for people who register by Saturday.

Online registration: online

 

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