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Georgia Perimeter College to hold autism awareness event

COVINGTON - Georgia Perimeter College is holding a Walk for Autism: Community Autism Awareness Event this weekend to raise money and support for local and national research on autism.

The event is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at GPC's Newton Campus, located off Ga. Highway 11, south of Interstate 20 in Covington.

Polly Bouker, assistant professor of geology at GPC, started the event to support the annual Georgia Walk for Autism, which benefits the organizations Autism Speaks and the Marcus Institute, an Atlanta professional group that works with children who have developmental disabilities. The 2008 Georgia Walk is scheduled for April 12 at Atlantic Station in Atlanta.

"I was looking for a way for my Georgia Walk for Autism team - Team Bouker - to expand its fundraising," Bouker said. "My 9-year-old son has autism and had three months of daily treatment at the Marcus Institute."

The awareness program is open to the public, but Bouker said she especially wants families affected by autism to attend.

"I would love to see parents in our area get to know each other so they can provide each other support in the future," she said.

FACES, a support group for families of autistic children, also will be present.

One part of Saturday's event is the Walk for Autism, which will be a short, "mini-walk," Bouker said.

"(The walk is) to mimic the larger Georgia Walk for Autism. Participants shouldn't feel any pressure to actually 'walk' if they are unable," Bouker said.

She added that GPC is handicapped accessible.

The second part of the event is a Family Fun Day. Activities like face painting, a visit from a clown and balloon animals will be free for those who attend. Raffle tickets, snacks and drinks and other items will be for sale to raise money. Items being raffled off include restaurant gift certificates, a bowling party, an oil change and gift baskets.

Paleontologist and former GPC geology student Ken Leonard, who is now in the doctoral program in the ecology department at the University of Georgia, and his son, herpetologist Dr. Norm Leonard, will make presentations at Saturday's event.

All donations, which are tax deductible, and proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks and the Marcus Institute. The college will receive no funds from the event, Bouker said.

To RSVP to the event or make a donation, visit www.walknowforautism.org/georgia/personal/gpcnewton.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: If You Go

What: Walk for Autism: Community Autism Awareness Event

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Georgia Perimeter College, Ga. Highway 11, south of Interstate 20 in Covington

More information: www.walknowforautism.org/georgia/personal/gpcnewton