About Us

Autism Society River Cities

The Autism Society River Cities, formerly known as the Huntington Area Autism Society, was founded in 1982 by Dr. Ruth Christ Sullivan. We are a local affiliate of the Autism Society of America. We are an all-volunteer organization. We provide information and support to individuals and their families living with Autism Spectrum Disorders. We serve the tri-state area consisting of eastern Kentucky, southern Ohio and western West Virginia. Part of our services includes connecting families with others who share similar circumstances. In addition, we provide activities for families to enjoy such as various holiday parties, gatherings for things like bowling and jumping on blow-ups at a jump house. We also have a library with up-to-date books that are made available for check out to our group.


Rally for Autism FAQ

What is the Rally for Autism® and why is there a need for such an event?
The Rally for Autism® is an annual autism awareness event that helps the community to learn more about autism. The Rally is needed to help the general community understand how difficult and stressful life can be when a family member has autism. Hopefully the rally helps people understand that parents cannot help it when a chid with autism has a meltdown because of something that is, for example, hurting his ears or some other stress to his body. We want people to say - oh, that child may have autism instead of - Can't that mother control that kid.

What is a brief definition of autism? And what is the prevalence of autism?
"Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. It is called a "spectrum disorder," suggesting there may be a wide range in how individuals experience symptoms. People diagnosed with ASD experience significant challenges related to social impairment and communication, and have repetitive behavior or interests."
The prevalence of autism continues to be on the rise. Just a couple of years ago, autism occurred in 1 in 110 births and now it occurs in 1 in 68 births.

What is the history of the Rally for Autism®
The Rally for Autism® was a started when another mother, Angela Bryson, came into my office one day and said " you know, we ought to do a walk for autism." That was early January 2002. We immediately got together with Autism Services Center, Autism Training Center at Marshall and the Huntington Area Autism Society (now the Autism Society River Cities) and planned the first Walk for Autism that was held on the first Saturday of April 2002, with snow on the ground. There were 220 participants that first year, and last year, the 13th year, there were 1244 registered participants. Over time we have added different features to the event. In 2004, we added a 25-mile bicycle ride and the 5K Timed Run was added in 2005. In 2006 we offered prizes for individuals raising the most money, and in 2009 we added teams to the event. We decided that with three events, it made sense to change the name to the Rally for Autism instead of the Walk for Autism, an eventually trademarked the name Rally for Autism®. In 2013, we added the website and this year we have added the use of social media and two t-shirt design contests - one for the event t-shirt and one for the team t-shirt. The event continues to evolve as we go along.

Who are the beneficiaries of the net proceeds of the Rally for Autism® and how are the monies used.
I want to preface the answer to this question with a couple of facts that may be of interest. The Rally for Autism® is presented and operated totally by volunteers. Therefore there are no overhead expenses - only direct expenses. The net proceeds are equally divided by the three beneficiaries who are also the presenters of the event: Autism Services Center, Autism Training Center at Marshal and the Autism Society River Cities. Each entity uses their share of the funds to help in what they do.
Autism Services Center uses the money to help provide clients with items they may not be able to purchase such as appropriate seasonal clothing, medication not covered by Medicaid, the opportunity to eat out/go to a movie. We also offer employees reimbursement for the completion of higher classes that increase their ability to perform their employment duties-a skilled workforce is essential in the provision of quality service.
Autism Training Center uses the money to help with their library. Funds received by the WV Autism Training Center are used to purchase books, DVDs, and other educational materials for the center’s statewide Lending Library. This year the WVATC used funds to purchase a software system to digitize the library, making it available on-line to registered clients.
Autism Society River Cities uses the money to provide a library and to provide family activities such as Swim, Halloween, Valentine and Christmas parties. We also provide specialized weekly yoga classes. In addition the funds are used to provide a library for the families and professionals that we serve.

How has the community supported the Rally for Autism®
The community has been incredibly supportive of the Rally for Autism® as evidenced by the growth in registered participants and the increase in corporate sponsors who not only give financially but donate their time to help the volunteers in the presentation and operation of the event, including Tim Irr's serving as one of the Emcees each year for many years - and he will be there again this year.

The event benefits The Autism Society- River Cities, Inc., Autism Services Center, and the WV Autism Training Center. These agencies are all locally based and all funds raised stay local.

Autism Society River Cities Chapter, formerly known as the Huntington Area Autism Society, was founded in 1982 by Dr. Ruth Christ Sullivan. It is an all-volunteer organization providing information and support to individuals and families living with autism in the Tri-State area including eastern Kentucky, southern Ohio and western West Virginia.

Autism Services Center, specializing in autism, provides direct care, life-span services in residential and community settings to assist individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their full potential.

The West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University is a statewide program that offers a variety of direct training and training resources to WV families and educators of children with autism.

This is a brief description of the agencies listed above. For more details about these three benefitting agencies, please click here.