Virginia Institute of Autism to Hold 5K - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Virginia Institute of Autism to Hold 5K

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Charlottesville community members are lacing up their running shoes to help families who have children with autism. For those families, community support means better services and better education for their children.

Registration is open for the Virginia Institute of Autism's Race for Autism 5K, coming up on April 20. The Saturday morning run will help kids like Charlie Taylor move forward by leaps and bounds.

Charlie is learning to communicate - a huge leap from where he was before he came to the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA).

"He understands us a lot more now," said Adam Taylor, Charlie's father. "While he can't communicate back, it's, you know, turn on the light, pick up your sock, things like that. They've certainly helped in that regard because I don't think he really grasped us talking to him."

A year and a half ago, the Taylors finished a grueling search for the right school, deciding on VIA in Charlottesville.

"We moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, here for VIA. It was kind of like, how do we get him in? But let's move up there and figure it out," Adam said.

There, Charlie works one-on-one with his instructor.

"Literally, teaching him to sit at a table and pay attention to something took months probably," said Tricia Taylor, Charlie's mother.

But for the Taylors, it's not just about what he's learning. It's about watching Charlie thrive in the right place for him.

"Hopefully the progression comes. He's done a lot in the last year and a half here and I think there's a lot more to come," Adam said.

"And he's happy," Tricia said. "That's the biggest thing, he's happy here."

Last year, the Taylors were touched to see the community cheer for Charlie and his classmates at the Run for Autism 5K.

"I ran with Charlie on my back in the kids' race," Tricia said.

Lynda Sharp, a coordinator of the 5K, said, "It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it, each year it's such an amazing feeling to know that our community is so supportive of these families and these children."

Proceeds from the run will help keep Charlie and other children like him moving forward.

"As far as our expectations, I think it's wide open and we just have to see where Charlie takes us I guess," Tricia said.

Tuesday, Ben and Jerry's is having a "free cone day" for VIA from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Registration forms for the race will also be available.

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