Monday, July 01, 2013

Bill Redfern: Walk the Walk for Autism

On June 15, 2013, thousands of people throughout Nova Scotia participated in the Walk the Walk for Autism. The charitable organization, which donates proceeds directly to community programs for individuals suffering from autism, held walks in nine different locations. Several top contributors from last year's walk returned to walk a second time, including A Buyer's Choice's CEO and founder Bill Redfern.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that plagues over 1 in 100 children throughout the world. Those afflicted generally have trouble developing social skills and struggle to communicate with others. Although there is no known cure for the disorder, it has been proven that early detection and treatment can help children lead relatively normal lives. In some cases, autistic children have been able to recover completely, leading many to believe that the disorder can be managed. But without proper funding, too many children will be denied the care they so desperately need. For this reason, charitable events like the Walk the Walk for Autism are considered essential.

If autism is not treated, it can lead to a myriad of problems later in life. Autistic adults have trouble establishing meaningful relationships, securing employment and exhibiting determination. And while some may improve on their own, most require an extensive support system if they ever hope to achieve normalcy.

The initial signs of autism can present themselves very early in life. In fact, by age 18 months, most autistic children are already exhibiting unusual behaviors, such as underdeveloped language skills. Parents who recognize these early warning signs are encouraged to have their child screened for autism right away.

Bill Redfern knows firsthand how damaging autism can be on a child's life. Through participating in the Walk the Walk for Autism, he hopes to not only raise funds, but also to spread public awareness surrounding the disorder. In addition to raising money for his own team, Bill Redfern is encouraging anyone with disposable income to contribute to the walk. Thankfully, others have followed his lead: Dozens of teams and individuals have each raised upward of $1,000 or more. Their generous contributions will not go unnoticed by the community.

Last year, the team Redfern set up for his children was one of the top fundraisers for the IWK Health Centre. A facility that provides highly specialized care to autistic children, the IWK is determined to combat what was once thought to be an unmanageable disease. It is also a renowned research facility, with over $20 million of funded research currently in progress.

Childhood is a time meant for exploring the world, making new friends and learning vital skills. But autism threatens to take all of that away by leaving children in a state of perpetual isolation. The Walk for Walk for Autism and contributors like Bill Redfern are determined to combat the disorder, and to restore joy into the lives of children stricken with autism.

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