Over 1,300 people gathered at the starting line for the Autism Speaks 4th of July 5k to celebrate our nation’s birth and raise critical funds to improve the lives of all those who struggle with autism spectrum disorder. The event raised over $220,000 with additional fundraising expected through the end of the month. In addition to the participants in Potomac, MD, the race hosted “virtual” runners in Bethany Beach, Boston, Dublin, Paris, New Orleans, and England.
Festivities for the event kicked off the prior evening, when Under Armour hosted the pre-race packet pickup at their Montgomery Mall store. Under Armour is a new sponsor to this year’s event and provided all 2016 race shirts and additional branded merchandise for participants.
The rain stayed away on race day, where Congressman John Delaney of Maryland’s 6th district addressed the crowd, along with local weatherman Topper Shutt of USA9 News, and Katherine Van Hollen. The success of the race would not have been possible without the support of the presenting sponsors, BOWA and PGMI. Top teams included Richie’s Racers led by Autism Speaks Board Member Steve Kirstein, Owen’s Turn led by Autism Speaks Board Member Ed Nutall and Will Lash Dream Team led by Sharon Zackula. The winner for largest team was the Eldwick Sharks with 117 members.
This year marked the 16th anniversary of the event, which began as the dream of Race Director Susan Pereles, an aunt who wanted to make a difference when her nephew Shant was diagnosed with autism. Because of her passion and drive, and the dedication of participants throughout the country, the event has cumulatively raised over $3M.