Saturday proved to be perfect running weather for this year’s 7th annual Queens for a Cause Autism 5K in downtown McMinnville. Around 500 participants showed up in support of autism awareness in our community, including 16 teams.
Darlene Bryant, organization director, says their goal is to make a difference locally. With proceeds from last year's 5K, the organization was able to bring an applied behavioral analysis specialist to Warren County once a week for 16 weeks to work with children with autism. This was provided at no cost to the child's family.
Jenna Sullens, who has a 7-year-old son on the autism spectrum, says this event means so much to them and the other families. She volunteers every year to help with the race and is grateful to see the event grow.
“It paid for Hudson’s therapy, which is typically $230 for a 30-minute session with a speech therapist for autism so that’s huge,” said Sullens.
"But it’s not just therapeutic for our kids, it’s therapeutic for us parents too," she continued. "Last year, they hosted a pool party so we could have an afternoon to relax and enjoy spending time with others in our autism family. It’s nice to go to a place without fear of judgement.”
With this year’s proceeds, Bryant said Queens for a Cause will allow the families of those on the spectrum to choose how to utilize the funds.
Bryant said, “We look forward to finding new ways to best help those impacted by the autism spectrum right here in our own community.”
Taking top honors in the 5K as the fastest overall male was Matthew Bratcher, 23, who posted a time of 19:46. Keely Campbell was clocked as the fastest overall female who ran the 3.1 miles in 23:16.
There were more teams formed this year honoring children living with autism. The largest team was Austin’s Army with around 140 participants earning the award for most team spirit. This team also received the best overall chip time as their three fastest team members averaged a time of 23:52.
Participants that donned their Toy Story-themed race shirt or bib into Juicy’s Wellness Café received discounted juices with 5 percent of Saturday’s sales going toward the autism fund.
For those who participated, chip results will be shared online at www.tnracetiming.com or on the Warren County Autism 5K Facebook page.