RICHMOND, Va. — The JP Jumpers Foundation annual Autism Walk is returning to Richmond Sunday for the first time in more than two years.
Because of the pandemic, the nonprofit held the walk virtually last year. But on Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., you can expect to see hundreds of people sporting blue T-shirts and raising awareness about autism.
This year's walk will start at the John Marshall Court Building, and participants will be led by the Highland Springs High School drum line, as they walk down Leigh Street 2.4 miles to the Science Museum of Virginia. The walk is usually down Broad Street, but because of construction, organizers had to change the route.
Along the route, there will be four stopping points, where people can join in if they can't walk the entire two miles.
"That allows all individuals to walk because we all cross the finish line together," explained Pam Mines, Executive Director of the JP Jumpers Foundation.
There will be a festival outside of the Science Museum, with food trucks, vendors and information booths for families who have loved ones with autism.
First responders from across the Commonwealth will also be in attendance, including the Richmond Sheriff's Office, Petersburg Police, Henrico Police, the Richmond Ambulance Authority and Norfolk Police.
Richmond Sheriff Antoinette Irving hopes the community understands police are there to protect everyone in the community and let everyone know they are safe and welcome in Richmond.
"It's important that we are inclusive in what we do in our state, in our city," Irving explained. "And we want to make sure that law enforcement has a positive outlook on what we do for others and that others are able to understand why it is that we have to do the things we do to make sure that everyone's safe."
For the second year in a row, there's also a "Pie in the Face Fundraising Challenge" leading up to Sunday's event. Pam Mines and local performer and vocal coach Kim Fox-Knight are raising donations for the JP Jumpers Foundation, and whoever raises the most money will get to pie the other person at the finish line of the walk.
Last year, this fundraiser raised $10,000 for Central Virginia's special needs community.
You can find more information by visiting jpjumpersfoundation.org.