Still time to register for 2Myles4Autism run/walk
HOWARD – The eighth annual 2Myles4Autism will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at Meadowbrook Elementary School in Howard.
The event is a 2 1/2 mile run/walk that was started by Vanessa Moran’s third-grade students in support of one of their peers, Myles Welnetz, who is on the autism spectrum.
Individuals with autism have challenges understanding how to navigate social aspects of school and day-to-day life.
Welnetz’s classmates understood these challenges and wanted to find a way to help him, as well as all students with autism in the district.
The planning of 2Myles4Autism provided students with an learning experience where they were able to use the various skills and concepts they had been taught over the year in a meaningful way.
One way they did this was by tracking registration numbers and calculating the total dollars raised as well as accounting for expenses.
Another way they did this was by using persuasive writing skills when soliciting donations from area businesses.
Students also used their art and technology skills to create various promotional materials.
As the event grew over the years, students from all across the district, from 4-year-old kindergarten all the way through 12th grade, became involved in the planning of the event, with Moran’s new class of students assuming the majority of the responsibilities each year.
In 2017, Moran left the district in pursuit of an administrative role. She is currently associate principal at Rexford/Longfellow Elementary in the Clintonville Public School District.
She continues to be involved with the Howard-Suamico School District, including with the planning of 2Myles4Autism, and serving on the district’s school board.
While there is no longer one single classroom central to the organizing of the event, it has always been a group effort with many individuals supporting the efforts of the students.
Welnetz’s parents, Ryan and Ally have been there from the beginning, helping with logistical aspects of the event and taking on responsibilities.
Ryan is also principal at Suamico Elementary School in the Howard-Suamico School District.
Rachel Brandt, former teacher at Howard Elementary School, was a member of the organizing team for many years, until relocating from the area last year.
Renee Gantz-Nett, special education program support coordinator with the district, came on board a few years back, and has been instrumental in carrying out many duties, including soliciting support from the Allies in Autism Team, which is a group of staff members who champion autism awareness in the district.
The funds raised from the event have been used to support students on the autism spectrum in the district with a variety of tools to help meet their unique needs, including adaptive technology and sensory equipment.
2Myles4Autism has also been able to sponsor several staff and parent trainings that have been specifically aimed at providing strategies to better support children with autism.
This past school year, 2Myles4Autism also funded a seat for a local student to be a part of Project Search, which is a transition-to-work program that teaches employment skills to students with special needs.
There is still work to be done, which is why everyone is invited to this year’s event.
Registration is $8 per participant, and while the registration deadline to receive a shirt on the day of the event has passed, if people register from now until the day of the event, they will still receive a shirt, just at a later date.
All money raised stays in the district and is used to continue to advance the mission and vision of the students who founded the event – build awareness about autism and generate dollars to directly benefit students with autism in the district.
The race will begin at 9 a.m., but beginning at 8 a.m., there will be a resource fair, raffle prizes, coffee and hot cocoa, entertainment and temporary tattoos for kids.
At the conclusion of the course, there will be giveaways for all participants as well as snacks and cake.
Each year, the event coincides with autism awareness month, as well as Welnetz’s birthday, so it has been an annual tradition to celebrate with him.
For more information, including how to register, visit 2myles4autism.weebly.com.