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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Kinney Center Walk/Run for Autism goes virtual

Students run to raise awareness for autism in 2019. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

The ninth annual Kinney Center Walk/Run for Autism will take place virtually from Oct. 3-10 through RaceJoy, an interactive mobile app, to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

“We made our decision with everyone’s safety first and foremost in our mind,” said Abigayle Jayroe ’14, director of operations for the Kinney Center. “We felt like we could accomplish many of the things that we were trying to accomplish in person, virtually this year.”

The Kinney Center’s Walk/Run for Autism spreads awareness about autism spectrum disorder, brings people together in support of individuals with autism and raises money for the Kinney Center and their services, according to Jayroe. 

Jayroe said that participants will be able to run or walk the 5K on their own time, with the opportunity to improve their time throughout the week on the RaceJoy app. The app tracks the distance throughout the run, allows for friends and family to cheer participants on and ranks all participants based on their official time. 

“You’ll be able to see the leaderboard and see who’s in first and where you are,” Jayroe said. “It’s an incentive in that way to keep exercising and moving.”

All donations can be made through the race sign-up website. Jayroe said it was difficult to set a benchmark for fundraising this year because of the uncertainty of how many people would register and participate. 

“In the past we have raised about $25,000 from donations and about $15,000 from registrations,” Jayroe said. “This year we had a conservative goal of $10,000 given the circumstances, but we’ve already surpassed that goal.”

Jayroe said all participants will have access to a virtual after-party via Zoom on Oct. 10 featuring comedian Tom Kroppier. Participants 21 years and older will have exclusive first access to pick up the new Runner’s High IPA from Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore before the general public. 

“We’re trying to stoke excitement in different ways this year, while we still provide a great experience and achieve a lot of autism awareness,” Jayroe said.

Taylor Wray, head coach for the St. Joe’s men’s lacrosse team, said he is an avid supporter of the event and said it is a great opportunity for the entire team to get involved with an important cause on campus every year. 

“To have a place like the Kinney Center on campus, and to support the incredible work that they do over there, it seemed like a no brainer,” Wray said. “We’re excited to be able to support them once again this year.”

Wray said the men’s lacrosse team will participate this year in smaller groups, to comply with COVID-19 protocols. 

“We’ll raise funds together as a team, but will actually participate in our six different training groups,” Wray said. “The fundraising goal for the entire team is to raise $1,500 this year, and I believe that we will be able to reach that goal.” 

Matt Tufano ’21, an attackman on the men’s lacrosse team, said his 10-man group will run the original in-person walk/run course during practice.

“The atmosphere will definitely be different, but overall it’s the same cause, so I feel like it’s still going to be great,” Tufano said.

Kella Pacifico ’21, a case manager for the Adult and Transitional Day Programs at the Kinney Center, said she felt mixed emotions when she heard the event was going to be virtual. 

“The run is still taking place and I think it will still have the same positivity and energy it had in the past, but it’s sad because it was always such a fun morning to bring people together,” Pacifico said. 

Although participants won’t be able to see everyone come together the morning of the event, the flexibility this year allows for people outside of Philadelphia to participate. This year, people are joining throughout the U.S., Japan and Germany, according to Jayroe. 

“I actually expect that in future years, when we’re back in person, that we would still probably have a virtual element,” Jayroe said. “It’s a great way to be able to engage some of those out-of-towners.” 

Pacifico said it’s important that everyone remembers the reason they chose to participate in the walk/run because the cause has not changed. 

“Everyone wants to support Kinney,” Pacifico said. “We might be in different locations, but we’re brought together for the same purpose.” 

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