Volunteers Get Energized for Autism; Fundraiser at Bailey's Gym Supports Camps for Disabled Children

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

The music was pretty loud for a Sunday morning and the cycling leader energetic - but it seemed most of the people at the 3rd annual Cycle for Autism event would have been just as pumped up without them.

"It's a family here, and they want to help," said Michele Weyer, the cycling instructor who organized the event at Bailey's Powerhouse Gym.

The goal: to raise money for the Diocese of St. Augustine's camps for people with disabilities.

The morning ride and other events this weekend were expected to raise around $20,000, close to 10 percent of the ministry's annual budget.

The ministry uses that money to run a variety of camps for children, teenagers and young adults challenged by developmental disabilities including Down syndrome, autism, muscular dystrophy and others.

During the nine weeks of summer camps, around 350 campers spend a week at the site, giving their parents a break and the campers a week to remember.

Providing that experience requires about 250 teenage volunteers - each camper has his or her own "buddy" who helps them for the week - as well as hundreds of adult volunteers.

"It's fun," said Chris Kellison, whose spent five summers volunteering at the camp. "Sometime you think it's going to be a chore, but it turns out to be the most fun part of summer. …