Thousands participate in 10th annual Race for Autism

SAN DIEGO - Excitement filled Balboa Park on Saturday as some 7,000 people ran, walked and enjoyed the ride down Sixth Avenue as part of the annual San Diego Race for Autism.

"You just can't put a dollar amount on how much love you feel from your friends and how good this program is for the schools here in this area," said participant Jami Kiendra.

Kiendra and her friends are part of "Team Tobey," in honor of her son who lives with the disorder. She and her husband have participated in the run for all 10 years and say the support system from all the families who participate has helped them tremendously.

"We sometimes do feel like we're alone with our autistic son but when you see everyone out here, we've got 80 friends and family here and it's just fantastic," said Mitch Kiendra.

Organizers say every step of the 5K race represents a child that has been diagnosed with autism in San Diego County. All the proceeds raised from Saturday's event will go to help those families.

In the race, everyone received a medal at the finish line. In addition to getting a little exercise, families could also stop by the resource fair to learn about various autism services in the community.

"The diagnoses for autism are rising. We've all heard that and it's just really important to have a sense of community here at the event," said Randy Schimka, who is with the National Foundation for Autism Research.

The foundation, which hosted Saturday's race, also provides grants for teachers, monthly men's groups and other programs geared to help those suffering from the disorder.

"It's just amazing," said Kiendra. "It's a great feeling."

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