HPU Lacrosse Team Steps Out to Improve Lives in Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism

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The High Point University men’s lacrosse team has quickly established a winning tradition in the first four years of its existence, but for Triad families with autism, some of the team’s off-the-field stats are what make the players outstanding:

4 years of participating in the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism as a team
56 lacrosse players ran last year
$7,291 raised since 2011

The team has become a familiar sight at the annual fundraiser for the Autism Society of North Carolina. The players come straight from practice and “basically show up as the gun is going off for the race,” said Associate Head Coach Pat Tracy.

They might arrive at the last minute, but that doesn’t reflect their dedication. Each year, every player on the roster registers for the Run/Walk and takes the time to seek donations from family and friends beforehand. “We have really great kids who care a lot,” Tracy said. “They’re definitely not hesitant to go outside of their comfort zone to help.”

Tracy has a stepbrother with autism and had participated in fundraisers for the cause in Baltimore before coming to High Point. It was his idea to make the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism one of the team’s many community service projects. The first year, their team had just 19 players; last year, they were up to 56. “The guys have been unbelievable in being supportive of it,” Tracy said.

15358636360_cf335862b8_zNick Bittner, a fifth-year senior, has been part of the lacrosse team since the beginning. Participating in the Run/Walk for Autism meant a lot more to him last year, though, after he spent the summer working with children with autism during an internship with the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Bittner was part of a team led by a clinical psychologist that was teaching social behaviors.

“It really opened my eyes to see what autism is, and to see the effort it takes for families who have children that have autism,” he said. Last fall, Bittner shared his experiences with his teammates. “I had seen firsthand what donating to the Autism Society could do to help people with autism.”

Bittner, who is a biology major and hopes to attend medical school, is now considering the autism field specifically. “I definitely found a certain passion for it,” he said.

In the meantime, he’ll join his teammates one last time for the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism on Sept. 26. Coach Tracy said they wouldn’t miss it.

“We’re excited. Our guys look forward to it every year,” he said. “Our guys really do enjoy being out there. They enjoy supporting the cause and supporting the community and the families.”

Step out to improve lives in the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism on Saturday, Sept. 26! The event at UNC-Greensboro will include a 5K race and a recreational 1K run/walk. Celebrate autism awareness and acceptance with music, refreshments, and vendor space that will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: http://www.greensbororunwalkforautism.com

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