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Autism bridge walk provides hope and excitement

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Community members came together Friday in Grand Rapids in support of families with autism, joining cities around the country in celebrating Autism Awareness Month.

For a fifth year, the Hope Network's "Bridge Walk for Autism" took place at one of downtown’s most iconic landmarks: The Blue Bridge.

Filled with hundreds, the walk was a display of affection for those on the spectrum.

It was a day full of excitement and hope as a sea of people donning blue shirts for autism awareness filled up the bridge.

"Today is really a celebration for those kids and their families and to say that there is opportunities for them to succeed and that they can have a great life," says Hope Network CEO Phillip Weaver.

Hope Network's Center for Autism helps to positively impact the lives of children and families affected by autism. The walk is just one way the center partners with other organizations to show support for those families.

"It really is a collaboration. One organization can't do it alone but together we can do great things," says Michelle O'Connor-Teklinski with Hope Network statewide autism services.

Hope Network once again partnered with the Grand Rapids Public Museum to provide a free sensory-friendly experience to families participating in the walk.

"So, we've got areas where they've dimmed the lights, some of the exhibits have been turned off because they might create some sensory overload," says Teklinski.

It was a complete afternoon for families who have children with autism.

One in 68 kids are affected by autism in the U.S. If you’d like to learn more about the services offered by Hope Network, visit their website.

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