Skate-a-thon a party on ice |

Skate-a-thon a party on ice

Annual event to benefit autism program, will also recognize Autism Awareness Month

Margaret Hair

Local children and volunteers participate in a 2009 skate-a-thon benefiting the Yampa Valley Autism Program. The third annual event is from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena.

— An ice skating party Saturday will bring awareness to National Autism Awareness Month and raise money for programs and services for local families affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Yampa Valley Autism Pro­gram hosts its third annual skate-a-thon fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Proceeds from the event go toward programming that serves about 60 local families participating in the Yampa Valley Autism Program, Executive Director Lu Etta Loeber said.

Those services include respite and other family support, social cognition programming, educational resources, and work training through Community Cultivation. The Autism Program also helps families financially based on need, Loeber said.

New to the skate-a-thon this year is a performance by members of the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club. Members of the club are scheduled to perform at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Loeber said.

Also new this year is a donation from Mambo Italiano. The downtown Steamboat Springs restaurant donated 200 discounted pasta dinner tickets to the event, Loeber said. Yampa Valley Autism Program will sell the tickets at a to-be-determined price with proceeds going to the program, Loeber said.

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Students have been collecting pledges for the skate-a-thon based on the number of laps they are willing to skate, and their donors pay 50 cents per lap. About 130 children participated in the event in 2009, netting about $8,000, Loeber said.

Janna Marxuach and her 13-year-old son, Grayson Steur, have attended the event since it started. Grayson was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2001.

"I think it's a great community event. There are a lot of kids who attend, and it's always fun to see the other kids who come in support of their classmates with autism. I always thought that was really special," Marxuach said.

Marxuach was one of the founders of Yampa Valley Autism Program, which began operating in 2003, she said. Through his years in the program, Grayson has developed his social skills, learning how to make small talk, shake hands, make friends and order food in a restaurant, Marxuach said. Grayson also participates in after-school tutoring through the program, she said.

Parents are welcome to skate at Saturday's event, Loeber said. Prizes, music and refreshments will be provided, she added.

— To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail

If you go

What: Third annual skate-a-thon, benefiting the Yampa Valley Autism Program

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Howelsen Ice Arena

Other: Packets for fundraising were distributed at local schools. Participants are encouraged to bring their own skates if they have them; the ice arena is providing free skates to anyone who needs them. Call 870-6257 for more information.

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