By: Theresa Schempp, Contributing Writer
The annual LAPS for Autism fun run and fundraiser will return to Johnny Unitas Stadium, April 17, to promote and provide support for the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism. The event will run from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., and promises to provide a family-friendly event while raising money for the center.
For $15, students, community members and organizations can spend the day walking laps with other groups and with the members of the center. The proceeds go toward making the Hussman Center as affordable as possible for members.
“All of the money we raise go toward keeping the costs of our programs as low as possible for the participants,” Hussman Center Executive Director Charlotte Exner said. “Many of them have very limited financial resources. People are often not working or are only working a little bit and our programs are designed for people to be able to take that next step.”
The Hussman Center for Adults with Autism is a part of the Towson University Institute for Well-Being, which provides community services that are staffed by Towson students and supervised by professionals within the fields of speech pathology, occupational therapy and more.
Arthur Smith, a digital marketing specialist for the Office of Partnerships and Outreach within the Department of Innovation and Applied Research, said that the event, now in its fourth year, will be “a fun afternoon for all ages.”
“Community members can come together to support the mission of the Hussman Center,” Smith said.
The Hussman Center also provides students with a different view of autism and other neurological disorders.
“It teaches students to look at autism as a form of diversity without as much focus on what people can’t do, but what people can do, and how society can better support individuals with autism,” Exner said.
The event will take place rain or shine, and people who can’t run or walk can bring blankets and support the cause from the sidelines. Over 300 participants and several student organizations have already signed up, according to Smith.
“We have a lot of student groups who have registered, four of them being sports teams,” Smith said. “We will have a huge student presence supporting this great cause.”
Along with sports teams, the Student Government Association and other student groups are participating in the event.
“Hopefully [the event] will bring awareness around adults living with autism,” Smith said. “There are a lot of groups out there that support children with autism, but the Hussman Center is different in that it supports adults who are often times ‘aged out’ of the programs, so the center provides educational and social, programs for these adults.”
The Hussman Center hopes to increase their sponsorships each year in order to bring more opportunities to the center, and to involve more Towson students in supporting and learning about the mission of the center.
“We really want students to experience what we focus on at the Hussman Center,” Exner said. “Which are opportunities that are inclusive towards individuals and portray accepting individuals with neuro-diversity as full members of our communities.”