FLORENCE, S.C. — More than 500 participants hit the streets Saturday morning to raise money for All 4 Autism in the a Pacing for Pieces 5K Run/Walk and Half Marathon.
The largest of Florence’s annual races, it is the only fundraiser for the Pee Dee’s only autism resource center, said Amy Pennington, outreach coordinator for All 4 Autism and race director of Pacing for Pieces.
“This is the only fundraiser for us. We wanted to put all our effort into one so that we could pay more attention to this one and keep it simple,” Pennington said.
Saturday’s half marathon started across from the organization’s offices at 183 S. Coit St. and the course included neighborhoods between Evans and Palmetto streets as well as between Evans and Darlington streets.
The 5K course looped around King and Gregg avenues and both races ended downtown with the Piece Jam festival.
“We would love to surpass 500 participants and raise awareness for everyone about autism and raise more funds,” Pennington said.
To have the city’s largest race after six years is a great thing, Pennington said.
“It feels wonderful, makes me feel loved and that we can do anything to make a difference here in Florence,” she said.
The center serves as a resource for families with an autistic member.
“Families come to us and we walk them through step by step for their individual who has ASD,” Pennington said.
Brittni Branton, her son, Dylan, and her daughter, Gracey, use the services offered by the center.
“She goes to the sibling support group and he went to summer camp this year for the first time,” she said as Dylan, 7, sat in a stroller ahead of the start of the 5K — the family’s fourth Pacing for Pieces race. “He had a lot of fun. He went dancing, he had snow cones and crabs.”
The services offered for Dylan, who attends St. John’s Elementary in Darlington, and the family are invaluable, she said.
“The support you get from the marriage classes to the different resources that you don’t know are out there to the sibling support group. It’s just really beneficial for her to talk to other siblings who can relate to her,” Branton said.
Saturday’s overall half marathon was won by Matthew Ferguson with a time of 1:26:57 while Steffen Husum won the 5K with a time of 18:50.