Thousands attend HEAL Autism Walk at Jacksonville Zoo

Sunday marks the final day of Autism Awareness Month.

Local families gathered Sunday at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for the HEAL Autism Walk.

The Ponte Vedra-based Healing Every Autistic Life Foundation held its ninth annual walk at the zoo – a way to bring families with autistic children together and raise money.

This year's event attracted nearly 2,000 people and raised at least $65,000.

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Leslie Weed, the founder of HEAL, said all proceeds from the event stay in our community. The money is disbursed through grants to local schools, programs and educators serving those living with autism spectrum disorders in Northeast Florida, organizers say.

“This summer, we’ll be funding 15 different camps that 350 children, teens and adults will be attending,” Weed said.

Weed said through fundraising events like the autism walk, the foundation has contributed nearly $2 million in grants to area programs and education.

“Events like this just help these families know they’re not alone,” Weed said.

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