Tag Archives: walkathon

Whitestone students, teachers walk to raise awareness for autism


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Students at one Whitestone school are showing that you can start giving back to the community even at a very young age.

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, the staff and students at P.S. 209, located at 16-10 Utopia Pkwy., participated in a walkathon at the school throughout the day on Friday.

Each grade at the school, which goes from kindergarten through fifth grade, went out and walked around the building four times.

Weeks before the walkathon, the school raised money to donate to the organization Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) and its day school, an after-school program located in Whitestone. The school set a goal of $2,500 and as of Friday staff, students and their families raised close to $4,000.

“We have wonderful parents and our students are extremely involved so we’re really proud,” said Jacqueline Diaz Fernandez, assistant principal at P.S. 209. “The principal and I, we really feel that education is not just reading and writing and math. It’s so important that they really are well-rounded and ready to provide the community with extra services. I think we’re living in a society where everything is ‘me, me, me,’ and we want to teach the children that it is ‘us.’”

To raise money for the organization, autism awareness T-shirts were sold to staff members, 600 chocolate lollipops were made and sold, and pledges were made by the families of students.

“Autism is on the rise and we have some autistic kids in our building, and we wanted to donate money to something that directly affects our school and the children around us,” said Maria Sperrazza, a teacher and member of the special events committee that organized the event. “It’s fabulous that we can all come together and we always said P.S. 209 is a family.”

All the money raised before May 1 will go toward providing additional support to families at QSAC’s Whitestone location.

QSAC, which was started in 1978 by a group of parents who felt there weren’t enough services for children with autism, serves about 1,700 children and adults with autism in New York, with about 800 clients in Queens.

According to Pat Barrientos, external affairs coordinator for QSAC, events such as the walkathon help raise awareness for a disorder which a few years ago was found in 1 out of 110 cases, but presently affects 1 in 68 children.

“The lesson being taught here is about giving back, and at a very young age they are being taught to give back to their community and that’s a lifelong lesson that they will take with them — that it’s always good to share,” Barrientos said.

According to teachers, the walkathon served as a moment for the students to become aware of autism and also work together for a cause.

“I want to help stop autism,” said fourth-grader Kevin Bracken, who was named by the school as an autism awareness spokesman. “I think that people should fund and help all these diseases and disorders to help people. I love helping people.”

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Walk to raise funds for Flushing toddler’s chemo


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Scott

Kimberly Scott’s life changed in March, when doctors discovered a lemon sized tumor in her toddler’s brain.

“They said in a week, he would have died if he didn’t have the surgery,” she said.

Her 3-year-old son Alex now faces at least six months of aggressive chemotherapy after the cancerous brain tumor was removed.

Hundreds in the community will come together at Kissena Park Lake to “Walk for Alex” on June 8.

They will raise money to help pay for some of Alex’s medical expenses as the Flushing family tries to bring order back into their lives.

The walk begins at 10 a.m. this Saturday, with registration opening an hour in advance.

“It’s amazing how the community steps up,” said Kimberly Scott, 29. “I haven’t been able to work at all and my husband works intermittently. This helps us out fantastically until we get back on a good work schedule.”

The Scotts, who have two young sons, were billed $49,000 for the surgery alone. They do not know how much of that will be covered by insurance. They are also facing fees for hospital stays and chemo.

“How our life was before is how we want to keep it now,” said Scott, a medical assistant. “I don’t want to have to sell my son’s Wii so I can pay the Con Edison bill.”

The mother of one of Alex’s classmates organized the walk, which has also received support from the Knights of Columbus, the International Nursery School and a number of charities. The groups hope to raise at least $5,000.

“I called her crying and thanked her so much,” Scott said.

While Alex suffers painful mouth and stomach sores, his mother said he has shown great perseverance.

“He should be having problems with speech, and he doesn’t,” Scott said. “He should be having weakness, but he doesn’t. He’s defying all the laws of cancer.”

Alex also has a huge post-surgery scar on his head, but does not have to worry about it so much since his father got an identical tattoo on his head.

“To me, that was the sweetest thing a father could do,” Kimberly Scott said. “Alex didn’t like everyone looking at him. He’s never going to be the only person with this thing on his head. Daddy will always have one too.”

 

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