HIGHLAND BEACH, Fla. — In just three days, the Autism Speaks Walk will be taking place virtually in Palm Beach County. Organizers said the spirit and energy are very much the same like in years past.
Marla Garchik isn't letting the pandemic get in the way of participating in one of the events that she holds dear to her heart.
"Knowing you're not alone and that the label that you get doesn't define your child, it helps you get the services that you need and kind of guide you into the direction you need to go," said Marla Garchik, co-chair of the Autism Speaks Walk in Palm Beach County.
Marla's son, Jack Garchik, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2. But through an early intervention program with Autism Speaks, he has overcome challenges and dramatically improved his social skills.
"I'm amazed by him daily," said Marla Garchik. "When he has a challenge and he's feeling overwhelmed, I say to him, 'Jack, you have come so far. Look what you have done. You can do anything,' and he can."
During this year's virtual walk, families and teams are encouraged to walk around their neighborhood for about 1.54 miles. That is important, because one in 54 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism every year. The fundraiser goes beyond families having a good time.
"We truly want to influence our community, both impacted and not impacted by autism, to build a kinder community overall," said Carolina Lizarralde, executive director for Autism Speaks South Florida.
Anyone taking part in the walk is encouraged to use the hash tag #autismspeakswalk to share videos and pictures.