CISD team, families unite for Dallas autism awareness walk

Akhila Gunturu, Staff Writer

PLANO- Crowds of families gather at the Campus at Legacy to raise money for those affected by autism. Led by Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism fundraising event, the walk united the community through a morning of activities. 

The walk was attended by several different teams, including a Coppell ISD team. Led by instructional coach Derryl Lee, the CISD team’s goal is to raise $2,000 for Autism Speaks. Lee organizes walks for different causes each year. 

“Just giving back to the world is important,” Lee said. “School isn’t just about getting an education, but it’s learning about how to face problems and deal with them, so everyone’s problem is our problem.” 

Several attendees from the Coppell team had a personal connection with the event. For Clara and Chris Caussey, it is their daughter. 

“Part of what I’m struggling with is having connections with people in similar situations,” Mrs. Caussey said. “I want to make more connections with parents of children who have autism so I can embrace that my daughter has autism. I want to help her be the best person she is.”

During the opening ceremony, the top teams and contributors were recognized, followed by several inspirational speeches about the cause. Throughout the event, attendees waved blue pom poms to cheer in a sensory friendly way. 

“The walk is an event where families can come and enjoy a community of other families who are going through similar journeys,” Autism Speaks senior manager Maria Krystofik said. “A lot of families don’t have places they can take their little ones; they can’t go to the same places you and I go to.” 

The walk, which started at 9 a.m., featured a 1K and 5K. Kids activities, such as face painting and games, silent auctions, fundraising booths, and more were happening throughout at the event. To many, the walk was a celebration of their loved ones affected by autism, with whole families and diverse communities attending the walk and bonding. 

The closing ceremony consisted of a few short speeches, all thanking the people who came and highlighting the importance of autism awareness. Kids got up on the stage afterwards and danced to several pop songs, all cheered on by their families waving the blue pom poms.

“As a father of a son with Down syndrome, thank you for coming out,” said Muhammed Kamal of Team Muhsen, a Muslim organization dedicated to helping individuals with special needs.  “We should come out and support no matter what, because that’s what human beings are made for.”


Follow Akhila on Twitter @akhila_gunturu.