NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – Hundreds laced their running shoes, and headed out to TJR elementary in Nacogdoches for a 5k fun walk/run, all in support of autistic children.
The funds will benefit families whose children attend the Helping House, a private school providing autistic children with education and behavioral support.
Jayson Minguez and his five-year-old son Axel should be headed toward the finish line. Instead they're enjoying some time on the playground.
"Communication skills and social skills really, that's the biggest thing for us," said Jayson. "He's happy here right now so we're just going to be here."
Axel is autistic. The Helping House is giving him the resources he needs to develop.
"They do not only train him academically but also giving him life skills, like taking turns, potty training, which is very hard for kids with autism, also trying to swallow pills," said Majal Minguez.
The Minguez family must adapt to meet Axel's needs.
"You know changing his diet, trying to get rid of all the toxic chemicals in our house making our habitat safe for him. It's a lot of work," explained Majal. "It takes four or five times more financially to manage all the needs that they have."
Saturday's fun walk/run is held to raise scholarship money to help parents like Jena Risinger.
"It wouldn't have been something that our family would have been able to afford for him without that assistance," said Risinger.
Jena say's her son Jaxon started attending the Helping House in February, and has come a long way.
"He can say his name. He's counting and identifying shapes and colors and things I would have never thought he would have been able to do."
Overcoming these obstacles gives parents hope and children confidence.
"We're hoping that Axel can transition to a regular school by next year," said Majal.
"They have just changed our life and it's been excellent," said Risinger.
The event raised roughly $15,000 to help parents with tuition and school supplies.
Organizers say there were more than 200 people who participated.