Make a difference in the lives of families touched by autism

Joy fills the Autism Speaks Walk

We are closing in on the 2017 Autism Speaks Walk in Charlotte and WBTV would love to have you join us at zMax Dragway in Concord on Oct. 28. You can register the day of the event beginning at 9 a.m. The opening ceremonies are scheduled to begin around 9:45 a.m. and the walk will step off at 10 a.m.

It's easy to get involved. Click here to create a walk team, or you join the WBTVandMe team or make a donation by clicking here.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one in 68 children. Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism advocacy organization. The organization raises money for awareness and ground breaking research.

"Autism Speaks replaces the hopelessness," Dan Johnson said.

Major Dan Johnson is a 20-year veteran of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, but more importantly, he is Tyler's dad.

"Tyler is my one in 68, but when we got the diagnosis I didn't know what that meant," Johnson said.

Johnson says he and his wife then set off to learn more, but it was overwhelming.

"We found tons and tons of information that meant nothing to me until we found Autism Speaks," said Johnson. "They gave us practical advice."

Tyler is now a thriving 16-year-old high school student.

"I was told when he was diagnosed that I'll have a son who won't hug me," Johnson said. "Now I have an every day high school student."

It's estimated that a half million children with autism will become adults in the next ten years. Autism Speaks is working with companies big and small to provide educational and workforce opportunities.

Jacob Klingensmith works as a video editor at WBTV. He is proof that those who are on the autism spectrum can do amazing things if just given an opportunity. He came to the Autism Speaks Walk for the first time last year.

"All my life, I've struggled in the areas of social skills and repetitive habits. This (walk) was a great reminder that autism, regardless of the severity, does not have to be a permanent setback," Klingensmith said.  "Autism Speaks is a fantastic organization, helping those, with mild or severe cases. Most importantly, they have inspired and given hope to millions (on) the spectrum."

We hope to see Oct. 28!


Learn more about starting your walk team by clicking here. Click here to learn more about autism and Autism Speaks.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.