Community supports fundraiser to benefit Preschool Learning Center
With clouds’ gathering and the wind’s bearing a cold punch, runners in the Christine Padasak Memorial Autism Awareness 5K and fun walk on Saturday stomached both the chill and the steep inclines for the opportunity to raise money and awareness for autism.
“I couldn’t run this year, because of my back,” Malcos said. “I can still be here to show my support.”
Malcos, a teacher at the learning center, ran during the race’s inaugural year, in 2010. The Kiwanis Club of Springville, which organized the event to raise money for school equipment and accompanying professional consultation, raised $13,000 that year, $21,000 last year and, by as of early calculations, $11,000 this year.
It was short of the $30,000 goal, but, “whatever we get helps a lot,” Malcos said.
Researchers estimated that one out of every 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Classrooms at the center address those needs through specialized instruction and equipment, much of which is beyond the reach of the center’s budget.
With last year’s funds, the center purchased electronic devices like iPods® and DVD players. A consultant was brought in from Toronto to oversee several of the classes and offer recommendations, concerning teacher strategy.
Malcos said that, while it is too early to tell what the center will do with this year’s funds, she is sure the center will find ways to put the money to good use.
Joe Wolniewicz, a Kiwanis member and race organizer, said Saturday’s showing was on the disappointing side, but he was still encouraged by the number of people who showed up.
“Everyone appeared to have a good time,” he said. “It’s for a great cause.”
Four of the center’s classrooms are designated for ASD students who require the most complex services and staff resources. Teachers working with ASD students need different and more focused training to become what Malcos called “skilled behaviorists.”
Tuition costs from the state has been frozen for a number of years and Malcos said that the likelihood of that money’s being reinstated is “unlikely,” especially with New York state’s fiscal issues.
Kiwanis members and organizers said that they could not have held the run and pancake breakfast without the help of many, including Kiril’s Restaurant, Cozy Corner, Apple Dumplin’, Papa Jake’s and Julie’s Pizzeria.
Wolniewicz said Kiwanis plans to host the run and related events each year.
“We have a broad array of programs we do each year,” he said. “They help quite a lot and that’s what we’re about.”