Working, walking together

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Autism event shows ‘character’ of community

By Stephen Lega

Despite chilly temperatures, hundreds of people gathered at Graham Memorial Park on Saturday morning to show their support for autism awareness.
The third annual Working the Puzzle for Autism Walk is part of a continuing effort to educate the community about autism and people who live with this condition.
John Mikkiah Thompson, a 19-year-old with autism, opened the event by singing “Through My Eyes,” a song about living with autism. Thompson did not speak until he was 8 years old, and it was his interest in music that helped him learn to talk.
Thompson and his parents drove four hours from Shelbyville, Ind., to participate in this year’s event.
Lisa Nally-Martin, the event coordinator, hoped everyone could take inspiration from Thompson’s story.
“If you keep exploring and keep exposing these kids to different things something may unlock within each of them,” she told the audience.
The event was intended to be both fun and educational. Participants walked a lap around the park, which was adorned with a variety of signs with information and statistics about autism.
Booths about services to assist individuals with autism were set up along with games and other activities.
Martha Hutsell, a Lebanon native who now lives in Lexington, attended the event for the first time with her daughter, Johnica.
“It’s good to see how many people are affected by this disorder and to see how many people are working to find a cure,” Hutsell said.
She also said interacting with other families affected by autism was a good experience as well.
“You don’t feel like you’re alone,” Hutsell said.
Grant Thompson, John Mikkiah Thompson’s father, said they enjoyed being part of the event as well.
“I’m really impressed by all the people that are here,” Grant Thompson said. “It shows a really supportive community. It speaks loudly to the character of Lebanon.”


Washington County event April 20
Local families are invited to participate in Washington County’s fourth annual Autism Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at River of Life Church on Hwy. 555 in Springfield.
Admission is free. Fifteen vendors are scheduled to be present to discuss services for individuals with autism. Door prizes will be awarded. A few special prizes will be awarded to families affected by autism. These include a weekend package to Great Wolf Lodge, tickets to see a performance of “Shrek – The Musical” at My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, and a one-night stay in the castle on Versailles Road.
For more information, call Melody McClain at (859) 336-4228.