Charlottesville Free Cone Day Benefits Virginia Institute of Aut - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville Free Cone Day Benefits Virginia Institute of Autism

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There's nothing sweeter than getting a free cone of ice cream and benefiting a Charlottesville charity at the same time.

Tuesday, a scoop of your favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor will help families through the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA).

VIA has teamed up with the Ben and Jerry's store in the Barrack's Road Shopping Center for more than a decade to host this tasty tradition.

Organizers held a special hour dedicated to students and staff at the institute.

Ann Lawrence Gratsy says a free cone means so much more than a sweet treat for her family. Her son, Pierce, is a student at VIA.

She said, “We just celebrated our three-year anniversary and this is our fourth Free Cone Day and fourth Run for Autism.”

Donations dumped into the VIA collection buckets means better services for people living with autism in central Virginia.

“I have Pierce and he has a younger brother Mason and if it weren't for VIA, they wouldn't have the interaction that they have today - just simple things like sharing and Pierce offering Mason an opportunity to do something that's fun,” Gratsy said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that one in 68 children has autism - making support for this cause all the more significant.

VIA Communications Coordinator Kristin Twiford said, “This is a huge time of growth for VIA and for autism services nationwide, so it's really nice to see that the community is coming here today, getting to meet some of our students and some of our families.”

“The reality is that everybody is being touched by autism these days, and providing autism services for the families in this community and supporting the run for autism is going to strengthen the community for all of us,” said Gratsy.

You still have a chance to grab a free cone and give back to the cause until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

This event is also a big fundraiser for the group's Run for Autism 5K this Saturday. You can get the early registration price until noon on Thursday.

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