SAN DIEGO - More than 6,000 people turned out Saturday for the annual San Diego Race for Autism in Balboa Park.
For Summer Carlin, raising three children with autism has been a road full of surprises and challenges. She says attending events like the San Diego Race for Autism gives her the support she needs.
"As a parent, you can just let your kids be and not have to worry about people in the community judging," she told 10News. "We are all in the same boat here."
Saturday's race comes just a day after a new study was released, debunking the highly-debated theory that giving children vaccines leads to autism.
Dr. Eric Courchesne, who is with the UCSD Autism Center for Excellence, gave his take on the research.
"It doesn't make a difference how many vaccines you receive in a short time," he said. "You are not at risk for autism so it's important to get vaccines. It protects babies and children."
Carlin says in their case, because they knew it was genetic, all three children received their shots.
But instead of focusing on the results from medical research, the 6,000 runners kept their eyes on crossing that finish line, knowing they did their part to support more than 10,000 children in San Diego that have been diagnosed with autism.
For the Bautista family, it was about celebrating Ava's accomplishments and how far she has grown since she was diagnosed.
Her dad Jay Bautista told 10News, "We weren't quite sure what her future was eight years ago. Now, we know she has a future. She's so happy and has so many friends, she's involved in so many activities and that's all we could ask for… was her to be accepted."
All of the proceeds from the race will stay in San Diego and will fund autism programs and research.