Autism Walk raises awareness

Six-year-old Leighton, above, was the inspiration the second annual Autism Walk organized by his grandmother, Jo Leigh Marlow.

Six-year-old Leighton, above, was the inspiration the second annual Autism Walk organized by his grandmother, Jo Leigh Marlow.

By GINNY COOPER / Staff Writer

VINCENT—Jo Leigh Harlow cites her grandson, Leighton, as a primary source of inspiration for the annual autism awareness walk she organizes in Vincent.

Leighton was diagnosed with autism when he was just two-years-old. Leighton is now a vivacious 6-year-old who is at the top of his class and does “as well as, if not better, than the other kids,” Harlow said.

“You just take what you’ve got, and you make the best of it,” Harlow said, citing an early diagnosis as well as working with his strengths and weaknesses as important in Leighton’s improvement.

Harlow, who is a 6th grade teacher at Vincent Middle/ High, has been an educator for over 36 years. Harlow said that the many autistic children she taught throughout the years also inspired the awareness walk.

“I feel that all people need to be aware of this disease and learn how prominent it is in your society today,” Harlow said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.

The Junior Beta Club, sponsored by Harlow, helps with the organization of the event. There will be snow cones, a space bounce and t-shirts for those participating in the walk. The walk is a 3k, which is not timed so everyone can walk at their own pace.

Registration is $15 until April 25, and $20 the day of the event. Proceeds from the walk go to support the Autism Society.

Vincent’s second Annual Autism Walk will be held April 26 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“We just want to make it bigger and better every year,” Harlow said.