Local author hosts walk for autism awareness

Published 9:39 am Friday, March 29, 2024

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Jacquie Hamilton, an author and teacher at Greenville Middle School, is gearing up for the annual Autism Walk on April 13 at the old YMCA building from 8-11 a.m. The event, organized by Hamilton’s nonprofit, Joining Jalen’s Fight, will feature a mile walk for autism, games, air jumps for children, food trucks, local vendors and music.

Hamilton, whose son is autistic, founded Joining Jalen’s Fight in 2019 to provide support for families dealing with autism. 

“My son is autistic and he will be 28 this year. When he was diagnosed, I didn’t know anything about autism. It’s just a small word but it was big to me,” Hamilton said. “I needed help but the resources available here are so limited. Now, I want to be that support that I needed so long ago.”

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Funds raised during the event will stay in the community to support local needs. Hamilton, an author with multiple published works, including her latest book titled “I need Thee,” hopes to raise awareness and understanding about autism through her writing. Her children’s book, “Jalen’s Blue Backpack,” aims to help children grasp what autism might look like.

Kimberlei Ruggles, Hamilton’s coworker at Greenville Middle School, will have a booth at the event selling Mary Kay pampering services.

“Jacquie is my ‘across the hall neighbor.’ We teach across the hall from each other every day,” Ruggles said. “I fully support her in promoting awareness of the needs of families who have autistic children.”

E’licia Allen, a close friend of Hamilton, praised her dedication to autism advocacy. 

“Jacquie is a walking and talking advocate for autism. Each year she works tirelessly to ensure that she represents and brings autism awareness to the community,” Allen said. “It’s amazing to see her take her experiences and knowledge and use her talents as she grows and flourishes for the cause each year. She’s the local ‘poster girl’ for Autism in our community.”

The Autism Walk promises to be a meaningful and fun event for the whole community, with activities and support for families affected by autism.