PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Saturday morning several bikers made it their mission to spread the message about America’s fastest-growing developmental disorder for miles and miles.
The Cross Bearers Motorcycle Ministry organized the “Ride 4 Autism,” which started in Petersburg and winded about 75 miles before ending in Dinwiddie.
“To see all of these bike clubs and groups and ministries come together to support one local cause has just been fantastic,” said Becky Boswell, executive director of Autism Society Central Virginia.
Proceeds from the ride are going to Autism Society Central Virginia.
Organizer Larry Watson of Cross Bearers Motorcycle Ministry says his group has declared 2015 “Suffer the Little Children” year. They will spend the year supporting organizations that assist children and encourage others to join their cause.
“If we don’t give, no one gets,” he said.
Watson stressed the importance of testing, research and early detection when it comes to autism.
“People become intolerant with those who may be showing different signs of different syndromes, and we want to bring about an understanding for those individuals and also to bring the support to those individuals who are supporting individuals with autism,” said Watson.
He says that’s why they decided to ride for Autism Society Central Virginia.
The organization has served the area for more than 30 years.
“We provide education, resources, services and support for individuals with autism and their families in the central Virginia community,” said Boswell.
Members from other groups got on board to participate in the ride and show their support.
“I had a grandchild that needed to be tested,” said Robert Royster of Heaven’s Saints Motorcycle Ministry. “You don’t know until the research is done and people are aware of it. It’s not a crime to be autistic.”
Chester Davis of Buffalo Soldiers wants to show those directly impacted that they aren’t alone.
“We try to support any good cause in the communities, and I think that’s a real good cause,” he said. “People need to understand what the families with autistic kids are dealing with.”
The bikers say they made an impact even before leaving the parking lot where they gathered.
“We were just walking through the parking lot and a woman approached us about what we were doing and she said, ‘I have two people that are affected by this. Can I make a donation?'” said Royster.
Autism Society Central Virginia has a 5K Run/Walk scheduled for May 23. They’ve already raised more than $10,000.
Click here for more information or to sign up.