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Walk to raise autism awareness

It's not easy learning how to walk. Just ask any child or, in the case of Kim Seguin and Dena Walczynski-Filipovich, two moms. Since February, the two have been planning for the first Autism Walk -- in Duluth on Sept. 9. It has been no easy task....

It's not easy learning how to walk. Just ask any child or, in the case of Kim Seguin and Dena Walczynski-Filipovich, two moms.

Since February, the two have been planning for the first Autism Walk -- in Duluth on Sept. 9. It has been no easy task.

"It's been so much work," Seguin said. "It's been every day."

"I probably devote an hour or two a day to it," Walczynski-Filipovich said.

The two are parents of autistic children. In Seguin's case her 4-year-old son, Jaxson, was diagnosed with a mild form of autism last year. Seguin, who lives in the Gary neighborhood, began taking Jaxson to Nettleton School, which offers a program for autistic children. But Seguin wanted the school to be able to afford more supplies and equipment for the students. In some cases, she was told that teachers had to buy and bring in their own supplies.

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One day in February, Seguin sent a note to the eight parents in the class, asking if they would be interested in putting together an autism walk. Only Walczynski-Filipovich, whose 3-year-old daughter, Lilly, has a mild form of autism, responded.

Since then, the two have been trying to amass sponsors and walkers, and lately have been gathering steam. While they're still hoping for more, they've gained about five sponsors, a string of companies offering gifts for a silent auction, and 80 walkers who will be donating pledges.

The two hope to raise about $5,000, all of which will be donated to local schools that offer autism education programs.

They're also hoping to raise more awareness about the prevalence of autism, and what it means for a child to be autistic.

"It seems like not many people know it's a problem," Seguin said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects anywhere from one in 500 children to one in 166, and mostly is diagnosed in boys.

They're hoping to turn the walk into an annual event by setting up a committee, getting volunteers and making it easier to plan.

"We hope that the schools can get whatever they want or need for their classes," Seguin said.

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If you go

What: Autism Walk 2007

Registration: 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9

Where: Duluth Public Schools Stadium, 4405 W. Fourth St.

For more information: Go to www.xanga.com/walkforautism , e-mail walkforautism@hotmail.com or call 626-1562.

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