Thousands gather at Columbus Commons for 10th anniversary of Autism Speaks walk

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Thousands joined the Autism Speaks walk on Saturday held at The Commons in downtown Columbus.

This is the 10th anniversary of the walk, and it helps raise awareness and money for autism research.

The Daniels family tells NBC 4’s Elyse Chengery that the Autism Speaks Walk brings so many families together and that it has an even more special meaning to them, as their son Bash turns 4 on the same day as the walk.

“Our son Bash was diagnosed two years ago with autism. We kind of knew it was coming,” explains Ashley Daniels. “He wasn’t speaking, he was hand flapping, stemming. We went to the autism center and we got our diagnosis. It was incredibly hard.”

“It was tough, I think, for a father. It’s big where we want them to have the perfect life, you know, and knowing that it is out of my hands in a way where I can’t protect him, it is tough,” adds his father Brad.

The Daniels say they came across Autism Speaks and that it has helped them tremendously.

“Here we feel like family, you know, everybody’s going through the same exact thing that we’re going through. Found resources here – we found support groups here,” Daniels.

The Danielses formed a group for this year’s walk named Bash’s Buddies.

“We do it for him and we do it for all of the other people here with autism,” his mother said.

Thousands participated in the walk to create awareness and acceptance.

“It’s just coming together for a good cause. You’re not alone.”

What Bash’s parents hope for him, they say, is this: “The biggest thing is, when people see him to not see him for his autism, he’s just like everybody. He just gets his point across differently, he may not speak but he can speak with his hands, he can tell what he needs to tell, and he’s just a special, just as great as everybody else.”

More than $1.2 million was raised at the walk, and a significant amount of that money goes to fund programs right here in central Ohio.

To learn more about Autism Speaks visit https://www.autismspeaks.org/

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