by Caitlin Huston
The Autism Society of Indiana and Peak Community Services are teaming up Saturday to bring the first pumpkin race promoting autism awareness to Indiana.
Participants are invited to bring their own decorated mid-sized pumpkins to Jefferson Hill and race them down the hill on wheeled carts. The event will be held in honor of Nicole ‘Niki” Savini, one of the event’s main organizers, who died in a car accident on Sept. 2.
The event will also feature face painting by the Berryettes, games, food, music and a bake sale whose proceeds go toward supporting Niki’s three children.
Nicole Hicks, District 9 ally for the Autism Society of Indiana, said the purpose of the event is to raise awareness of autism in a positive and fun manner.
“This event is essentially going to get the name out,” she said.
The ASI chose to have the first ever pumpkin run in Cass County because of the community support for the event, Hicks said.
“We had a large interest from the community to raise awareness,” Hicks said. “We also had a large interest from Sen. (Randy) Head, who wanted to become more involved in raising awareness.”
Head, who is a member of the Indiana Autism Commission, helped launch the idea of the event with Dana Renay, executive director of the Autism Society of Indiana. He said they both wanted to have an event different from the traditional walks held for autism.
“I wanted something special for our community,” Head said. The run will also honor Niki Savini, who worked for Peak Community Services and helped organize the event.
“Niki was an autism advocate,” Hicks said. “She was actually planning the event for us.”
Deb Mohler, Savini’s mother, said her daughter was excited for the event and was very passionate about autism awareness in the community.
“It became Niki’s quest to find out what she could do and become involved,” Mohler said. While the bake sale proceeds will benefit Savini’s children, Hicks said the rest of the proceeds from the event will go toward hosting events and supporting resources for autism in Logansport. The first support group meeting will be Tuesday at Peak, she said.
“Anybody is welcome to the support group,” she said. Head, who will be overseeing the event Saturday with Mayor Ted Franklin, said he’s glad the groups could work together to bring a new event to the state.
“I think it’s a great idea, definitely unique,” Head said
Pick up Sunday’s Pharos-Tribune to read more from Niki Savini’s mom on her daughter’s life and the investigation behind the crash
Want to go?
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday
Where: Bishop Park, 18th and Jefferson streets
Cost: $15 to race pumpkin and receive T-shirt