Free Cone Day & Run for Autism 5K to Raise Money for VIA - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Free Cone Day & Run for Autism 5K to Raise Money for VIA

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5K Run for Autism 5K Run for Autism

This week you have a chance to make a simple gesture that could impact the lives of children and adults living with autism in the Charlottesville area.

The Virginia Institute of Autism’s (VIA) annual Run for Autism 5K gets underway this weekend, but there's also sweeter way you can show your support: by participating in Free Cone Day Tuesday. It's all to raise money for VIA. You can get a free ice cream cone from noon to 8 p.m. at the Ben and Jerry's at the Barracks Road Shopping Center and all donations go to VIA.

The Run for Autism 5K is on Saturday, April 12 at 8 a.m. at Charlottesville High School. Funds from the Run for Autism 5K would help VIA provide outpatient care to more families. The money raised at the event will help the school expand and improve services and add staff.

"So it's everything from buying communication devices for children who have trouble communicating, to buying helmets and bicycles so they can play when it's a nice and sunny day out to basic infrastructure and things that we do here," said Marisa Taylor, VIA's director of development and communications. "We're trying to do everything better and improve what we offer our students and clients."

Six-year-old Cole is one of the students at VIA. His mom, Ashley Ausbrooks, moved their entire family to Charlottesville from Northern Virginia just so he could attend the school.

"I knew it was just the place that he was supposed to be," said Ausbrooks. "And that's mostly because of the heart of the staff."

Cole is now on the waiting list for outpatient care, so he can get similar one-on-one attention at home. "Helping him with other skills that he doesn't learn at school, so dressing, bathing, communication, all that stuff sort of transcends into the home environment, which would be awesome," said Ausbrooks.

VIA hopes to raise $90,000 at the race, a large part of the school's operating budget. "The 5K is one of the ways we can connect the community that supports us back to the lives that they're changing," Taylor said.

"That's one of the reasons that we're running the 5K," said Ausbrooks. "Not only to raise funds for Cole and other families so that VIA can provide the services for everyone, but to also be an example and hopefully an inspiration to the community to get other people to come out and run and support the cause."

Click here for 5K registration information.

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