The Ride for Autism

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 Photo courtesy of the Hanna Family
 Houck Hanna

Get some exercise and help the fight against autism by hopping on your bicycle and joining the Ride for Autism.

The fund raising ride was inspired by Houck Hanna, 3, son of Harry and Christina Hanna, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 2.

Feeling she had to do something, Christina approached the folks at Cyclist Connection in Canal Winchester and they helped her organize the ride.

"This is our first year and we hope to get bigger each year," said Christina. "The area around Canal Winchester has many cyclists and we’re hoping to make a difference."

Christina, an avid cyclist who rides 20 miles a day, said the goal of the Ride for Autism is to raise $20,000 for the Houck Hanna Foundation for Autistic Achievement with proceeds going to benefit families of autistic children.

"The money will be used for newly diagnosed families at the Children’s Hospital Autism Center providing kits that will give them the resources needed to begin this lifelong journey and also for summer therapy programs that most cannot afford," said Christina. "We are also working with Angels with Autism to continue to reach those autistic children most in need."

She added she hopes the ride will also increase awareness about autism.

"One out of every 150 births is diagnosed with autism and it’s four times as prevalent in boys," said Christina. "Something has to be done."

She said most insurance companies will not cover the therapies and treatments needed for those with autism, noting that therapies and treatments can cost as much as $65,000 per year.

About autism

According to the Autism Society of America Web site www.autism-society.org: "Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. There is no known single cause for autism. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees."

Christina said those with autism lack emotional and social skills.

"They’re in their own world," she said. "My son’s absolutely to himself. Every once in a while you can catch a glimpse of who he is, but then he’s back in his shell. The lack of communication is the hardest thing for a mother."

Though those with autism struggle socially, they exhibit intelligence in other ways, said Christina.

"Houck can do his ABC’s and count forward and backward from 40," she said, adding Houck is showing some improvement in his speech.

"Early intervention is important in treating autism, but there are only three schools in central Ohio specializing in autism treatment," said Christina.

More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined, according to information provided by Ride for Autism organizers.

"Someone should be stepping up to help, not enough is being done," said Christina.

One way to get things rolling in the effort to help those with autism is to donate to and register for the Ride for Autism. So get on your bike and ride.

About the Ride for Autism

The Ride for Autism will be held Aug. 25 starting at 9 a.m. at Cyclist Connection, 200 Cemetery Road in Canal Winchester. The bicycle riding fund raiser to benefit those with autism will offer routes of 10, 30 or 60 miles through the countryside south of Canal Winchester. Registration is $40. To register or to make a donation, visit www.cyclistconnection.com; fax (614) 833-2338; phone (888) 880-BIKE; or mail to Ride for Autism, 200 Cemetery Road, Canal Winchester, OH 43110.

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