Autism awareness ride raises money for local services

Posted July 25, 2009, at 5:54 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:15 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — About 80 motorcycles roared across the river to Brewer, downstream to Bucksport, across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and back to Bangor on Saturday morning — all for a good cause. The third annual Ride for Autism Awareness kicked off from the Bangor Waterfront at 9:30 a.m., wrapping up 53 miles later at University College of Bangor, where participants enjoyed a lunchtime cookout.

According to organizer Mary Lynn Hersey of the Penquis human services agency in Bangor, the ride raised between $1,000 and $1,500 to benefit area children with autism.

Nationally, one in every 150 children will be diagnosed with one of the many neurological disorders on the autism spectrum, which range from milder conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome to the debilitating symptoms of “classic” autism.

“In Maine, the numbers are even higher,” said Hersey, who manages autism services for families in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. “A lot of people have a connection one way or another.”

The causes of autism spectrum disorders are not known, but most medical experts point to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Awaiting the start of the ride, John Young of Bangor said he was participating in the fundraiser for several reasons.

“I love motorcycling,” he said. “And when it raises money for a good cause, that’s even better.” Young said a former coworker of his had twin sons who were both diagnosed with autism.

Michael and Andrea Kervin of Winterport said they have friends whose grandchildren have autism diagnoses.

“I feel for them,” Andrea Kervin said.

Money raised at Saturday’s event will help fund local support groups, a resource library and community education services offered through Penquis.

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