Oakland University hosts second annual Run for Autism

By Jake Thielen

Runners from several area communities came to Oakland University’s campus Sunday morning to participate in the second annual Run for Autism.

Val Yaros, the Program Coordinator and Interim Director of OUCARES, said that over 500 people registered for this year’s event. Yaros said that they hoped to reach their goal of raising $30,000 to benefit OUCARES and Homes for Autism.

The Run for Autism featured a 5k Fun Run/Walk and a competitive 10k Run with 120 runners participating.

Several of the participants said that they chose to run because it was for a good cause or because they personally knew someone affected by autism.

Ted Hanawalt of Birmingham said that he chose to run because his five-year-old son has autism. Chad Birch and Amanda Goodrich, both of Rochester Hills, said that they wanted to support the cause and train for distance running at the same time.

“Two of my cousins have autism,” Goodrich said. “So it was partially for the cause and [we’re] also training for a half-marathon.”

Mrs. Ohio International Heidi Scheer was on hand for the second consecutive year to help MC the event and hand out prizes. Scheer’s 9-year-old son has autism, and she said that she attends around three autism-related events each month.

“I’m quite busy with autism events,” Scheer said. “It’s my platform, so that’s why I go around speaking about autism, and education and the treatments that are available for children with autism, helping parents discover what they can actually do to help heal their child.”

According to the Autism Run website, the route had to be redrawn due to unforeseen logistical issues and road construction.  As a result, the race was not USATF certified as planned. However, prizes were still awarded to the top finishers for each gender and age category.

Eric Rzeppa of Sterling Heights was the top overall finisher with a time of 37:22, followed by Adam Alquiza of Shelby Township with a time of 38:53. Eryn Caton of Rochester was the top female runner, and she finished third place overall with a time of 39:13.