Lifestyle

Pet parade to fight autism

Today’s Hope president Tonya Guinn walks her Yorkshire terrier, Sasha, in downtown Snoqualmie. Guinn will host the first-ever Snoqualmie Pet Walk for Autism on Saturday, April 25, and is seeking walkers, sponsors and pets to help raise funds for early childhood programs. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Today’s Hope president Tonya Guinn walks her Yorkshire terrier, Sasha, in downtown Snoqualmie. Guinn will host the first-ever Snoqualmie Pet Walk for Autism on Saturday, April 25, and is seeking walkers, sponsors and pets to help raise funds for early childhood programs.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Snoqualmie resident Tonya Guinn’s five-year-old son Tanner, who has autism spectrum, didn’t speak until he was 3 years old.

But early intervention turned his life around, and now he is a typical kindergartner.

Tanner’s story underscores the need for intervention programs for young children with autism.

“Early intervention is key to the future success,” said Guinn. She is president of Today’s Hope, a national organization providing access to early services for families of children with autism.

As many as one in 150 children, and one in 67 boys, has autism, and insurance doesn’t always cover what these children need.

“As a parent, I can say that if Tanner had not had those key elements, he would not be where he is now,” Guinn said.

As a fundraiser for Today’s Hope, Guinn is holding the first ever Pet Walk for Autism in her hometown of Snoqualmie.

Families will parade with pets in downtown Snoqualmie, starting at Fir and Northern Streets on Saturday, April 25. Families meet up at 11 a.m. One walk starts at noon, the second at 1 p.m.

The day will include family activities including face painting, a pet art area, photo shoots of pets and families, prizes and a silent auction. Items up for bid include birthday party packages, certificates to local businesses and restaurants, and spa packages.

Dogs on parade should be able to behave around other pets. If families do not have a dog, they can be linked up with an appropriate pet through Three Rivers Rescue in Snoqualmie.

Today’s Hope was formed two years ago, and started helping its first family in 2008. Guinn hopes to raise enough money to help more families. It costs about $1,000 a month to provide services to a single family.

To take part, families should visit the Pet Walk Web site, www.todayshopeautism.org, register and download a sponsorship form. Funds are raised by families seeking sponsors. If this year’s Pet Walk is a hit, Guinn plans to organize more in future. To learn more, call(425) 292-0591.

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