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Walk to raise awareness for autism at West Shore Parks and Recreation in Colwood

Last year the Greater Victoria walk raised $6,600
This is the second year Colwood resident, Dimitri Karatsikis, is hosting the Victoria autism walk through Autism Speaks Canada. (iStock photo)

The Greater Victoria walk to raise awareness and money for programs for individuals with autism is coming to West Shore Parks and Recreation this weekend in Colwood.

The walk, started through Autism Speaks Canada, raises funds for support programs for children with autism and advancing research into causes and interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Colwood resident Dimitri Karatsikis is hosting the walk for the second year in a row. Karatsikis has a seven-year-old daughter with autism.

“Having been affected by having a daughter with autism, it made sense to raise money or awareness for autism, it was close to my heart,” Karatsikis said.

Two years ago, he attended his first Victoria Autism Speaks walk in Courtney and he raised the most money of all participants, which encouraged him to become more involved in the event, and ultimately host the walk closer to home.

Last year there were around 90 participants in the walk, and they are hoping for more than 100 this year. Last year’s event raised $6,600 that goes towards programs for children on the West Shore and across Canada.

Victoria has received more than $160,000 in grant funds since Autism Speaks Canada started 11 years ago.

The funds have gone to a variety of projects, including Project Lifesaver (a program that assists in searching for autistic children who have wandered from their caregivers), Canucks Autism Network, Power to be Vancouver Island (which sends individuals living with autism and their families to day-long events such as boating and outdoor group sports activities), and Let’s Face It! 2.0 which creates technological tools to help children with ASD with facial recognition.

The goal this year is to raise $7,000.

The walk will be held at West Shore Parks and Recreation, by the basketball courts at the lower fields. There will be colouring activities for children and hamburgers and hot dogs to indulge in after the walk.

The three-kilometre walk starts this Saturday, Sept. 22 at noon and registration begins at 11 a.m.

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