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Golfers tee it up for autism

| Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005

You would be surprised to find out how many people you run across who say they know someone who has autism.

It's why a golf outing at Buffalo Valley Golf Course has been set up for the third year to benefit the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) -- an event that more than doubled its donations from the first year to the second.

"This year the goal is $20,000," said Bill Callahan, owner of Buffalo Bill's Roadhouse in New Kensington, who organized the event.

The event raised $8,000 in the first year and $18,000 in the second, Callahan said.

Overhead costs hadn't been factored in, but as of Friday, almost $20,000 had been raised this year, he said.

About 144 golfers have signed up for the fund-raiser today and 30 are expected at the dinner tonight. Golfers are set to tee off at 1 p.m.

Callahan points to increased awareness of autism, now one of the most commonly diagnosed developmental disorders in children, as well as a person's generosity.

"This has turned into something really wonderful," Callahan said.

Donations have been sent from as far away as California, Michigan, Tennessee and New Jersey, Callahan said. Autism affects more children than cancer, Down syndrome and multiple sclerosis and gets fewer federal research dollars.

While autism affects more than 93 times the number of those affected by tuberculosis, it got 37 percent less research money last year. Autism affects about as many people as Parkinson's disease, but Parkinson's gets more than twice the research dollars that autism gets.

"So many people come into the restaurant that have children who have it," Callahan said. "I'm so happy that it's been going this way and people are finally realizing what autism is and how many kids in our area it affects."

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