Autism awareness, fundraising events take place on Saturday

HARLINGEN – “Up in the morning, before day. I don’t like it, no way.”

The runners Saturday morning probably won’t sing military cadences, but they’ll still have the same passion for the run because they’re raising money for autism research.

The 2nd Annual 5K Color Run, organized by the student council at Harlingen High School South, will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Harlingen High School South Mini-Stadium parking lot.

All ages are welcome to walk, jog, or skip at their own pace, said information from the student council.

Along the simple route on Dixieland Road, participants will learn why the event is called a “color run” when they are bathed with colored powder. To accentuate the power color, runners/walkers/skippers are asked to wear white T-shirts, although this isn’t a requirement.

The student council members who have been organizing the even are really excited, said Claudia Rogers, sponsor.

“The kids are working hard to get more people involved,” Rogers said. “They want to get parents to come and help us. They want to get more sponsors to help out.”

Adults participating in the run will pay $25. The charge is $15 for students in grade first through 12th.

This “color run” began last year when the student council decided it wanted to initiate some sort or charitable activity, Rogers said.

“They wanted to do something for the community,” she said. “They wanted it to be fun and they wanted it to be for a good cause.”

They decided on a run for autism during Autism Awareness Month. However, they wanted their 5K run to be a little different, so they decided to toss colored powder onto the runners.

Rogers said people can pre-register by contacting her or coming to Harlingen High School South. Rogers can also be reached at She can also be reached at Harlingen High School South at 427-3800.

Blues for Autism later

The action continues Saturday afternoon with “Blues for Autism” at Ol’ D’s Soda Shop at 105 W. Jackson St. The event will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. Those in attendance will be provided with free finger foods while they last. People also can order from the menu.

While enjoying some good food, they’ll be entertained by blues artists Emilio Crixell, Big Bruce Hodge, Tom Gonzalez of Nashville and Johnny Harper.

The event is organized by Chris Maley, who also program director for 88FM RGV Public Radio. Maley ‘s 15-year-old daughter Caitlyn has autism and is nonverbal. He organizes “Blues for Autism” events several times a year. Experts make presentations at different venues. Two experts will speak at Saturday’s event.

Marshal Nelson, a professor of psychology specializing in the creative journal expressive arts, will talk to the audience about using art to help children with autism. Art, she said, helps them express themselves.

Lebby Salinas, a certified health coach, will talk about foods that tend to aggravate the behaviors of people with autism. She’ll also talk about foods that can help calm them down, as well as research about supplements.

Maley specifically scheduled these two experts with National Autism Awareness Month in mind. He’s seen first-hand the importance of nutrition as explained by Salinas.

“They’ve found that with kids with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) a change in their diet helps with brain frequencies,” Maley said.

Too much sugar, breads and preservatives can severely affect the brain function of someone with autism, Maley said.

“My daughter needs to be on a non-gluten diet, no sugars, no caffeine,” Maley said.

Examples of foods that can create problems are gluten dairy, and food dye, Salinas said.

“When we’ve taken those things out and eliminated them from the diet, there’ve been people that have seen improvement,” she said.

Because of Nelson’s use of art therapy with children who have ASD, Maley felt her presence Saturday is crucial.

“It helps to stimulate the brains of children with autism spectrum disorder,” he said.

Nelson, co-owner of El Rocio Retreat in Mission, said she uses an activity called dancing on paper,

“I use an activity called dancing on paper,” Nelson said. “I put on music and they scribble to the feelings the music invokes in them,” she said.

Those attending “Blues for Autism” are asked to make a $5 donation. For more information about this event, call 230-1963.