Rickman/Brown Memorial 5K Saturday

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Yellow was the first color featured in last year's Rickman/Brown Memorial 5K event in Piggott. This year will also be a "color run" and those participating are urged to wear white shirts.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Registration is still underway for the Rickman/Brown Memorial 5K, set for this Saturday, Oct. 3, in Piggott. The fundraiser is held each fall, sponsored by the South Thornton Street Church of Christ and the Mohawk Basketball Boosters. The run/walk is held in memory of two former Piggott students who lost gallant battles with cancer, Matthew Brown and Erica Rickman.

Each year the effort is dedicated to a specific cause, and for 2015 the event is designed to promote awareness and raise money for the fight against autism. And, for the second year in a row the event will be a "color run."

"This year's event will be raising money to help build a sensory room at the ArKids Academy in Jonesboro," noted even organizer Karen Coomer. "The academy is a school designed for Northeast Arkansas students to help facilitate a special learning environment for children who cannot be adequately served in the public school setting."

PHS sophomore Kaylea Little is serving as spokesperson for this year's Rickman/Brown Memorial 5K, which benefits the fight against autism.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Coomer noted the academy currently cares for 26 students, and of them about 20 have autism.

Although she doesn't benefit from the services of the academy, serving as spokesperson for the fundraiser this year is PHS sophomore Kaylea Little, who is autistic.

"The old saying is that when you've met one kid with autism, you've met one kid with autism, they're all different," noted Kaylea's mother, Mindy McGinnis. "Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) includes a wide range of functional levels, but it has common characteristics such as social and emotional issues, language, behavioral and physical challenges. It is the fastest growing developmental diagnosis."

In preparation for her job as spokesman, Kaylea shared her challenges with autism. "I have trouble with big crowds and sometimes have trouble with new places and people," she explained through her mother. "I also have trouble when plans change unexpectedly, and sometimes getting the words in my brain to come out of my mouth."

But, she has also looked to the positive aspects of the disorder, noting she is very good at schedules. "I also love to do art, read my Bible and fan fictions," she added. "I also love to listen to music and attend plays."

And, as her mother is well aware the devotion to an autistic child is a lifelong dedication. "We know we'll be taking care of her for many years to come," Mindy added. "And her brother has always known that someday the responsibility will fall to him, it's just a fact of life--even for a 13-year-old." Kaylea's brother, Ryker Little, is an eighth grader at PHS.

Currently, autism affects one out of every 68 children in the United States. And, according to McGinnis, early interventions create the best long term results. Additional information on autism may be found online at www.autismspeaks.org

The entry fee is $10 for runners and walkers, $5 for children and students, $20 for those not wanting to run or walk and donations are also accepted.

Earlier events served to benefit other charities and efforts, with last year's run honoring PES student Dayton Gilkison. The year before the fight against juvenile diabetes benefitted from the event.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, behind the South Thornton Street Church of Christ on South Taylor Avenue. The run is set to begin at 10, and the route will once-again wind through the streets of Piggott and back to the church.

"Remember, this is once again a color run," Coomer added. "So, please wear a white t-shirt--but, if you choose not to participate in getting colored along the way just wear a dark-colored shirt."

Those wanting additional information about the event may contact Coomer at 870 598-4392, Jeremy Pierce at 870 324-1575 or the church office at 870 598-3250.

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