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Autism Walks held throughout Mohawk Valley

By By GARY LIBERATORE

(WKTV) - Seven Walks for Autism were held around the Mohawk Valley Saturday morning. The one at The Kelberman Center on Armory Drive in Utica was very well attended. Hundreds walked in orange tee shirts up and down Culver Avenue and back to the Kelberman Center.

One of the walkers was 23-year-old Nicholas Bonacci of Frankfort. Bonacci has Asperger's Syndrome, a realtively mild form or high functioning form of autism.

Kelberman Center Associate Executive Director Beth Myers says Asperger's is at the high end of the spectrum. She said, "we have some people at one end of the spectrum that have difficulty even using single words or phrases, and people that have a high vocabulary level but have difficulty using it in social interactions."

Bonacci was very well spoken, and very creative. He used that creativity to design and make several items he sold to help raise money on Saturday. The items he made include pins, magnets and bookmarks.

Myers says last year, the first year of the community walks for Autism, $100,000 was raised to help fund numerous programs in our area.

One of those programs is one that helps adults like Nicholas Bonacci. He have a support group for adults with autism, it's called Advancement Square, and that's a great program, because the adults are really looking for a place where they can be supported meet other people that were like them."

The walks were held in April, which is Autism Awareness Month.

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