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East Islip run/walk attracts 1,000 for autism fundraising

More than a thousand runners congregated Sunday,

More than a thousand runners congregated Sunday, April 24, 2016 at the East Islip Marina for a four mile race supporting children with autism. The 10th annual jigsaw run, hosted by the EJ Autism Foundation, raised more than $30,000 for local autism programs, said race director and founder Bea Huste-Petersen. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

More than a thousand people congregated Sunday at the East Islip Marina for a four-mile race supporting children with autism.

The 10th annual jigsaw run, hosted by the EJ Autism Foundation, raised more than $30,000 for local autism programs, said race director and founder Bea Huste-Petersen.

“It’s so powerful that people are recognizing the importance of supporting children with autism,” said East Islip resident Huste-Petersen, a mother of two autistic children. “Our ultimate purpose is to create awareness.”

Some 1,140 people walked and ran the four-mile course on Bayview Avenue, complete with an Elvis impersonator at the halfway mark, and a scenic finish at the South Bay.

Holbrook resident Nicholas Pandolfo, 17, was the men’s overall winner with a time of 21:39. Bayport resident Leonora Petrina, 33, was the women’s overall winner with a time of 23:35.

Many runners and walkers participated in teams, running for family members and friends with autistic children.

Michele Iallonardi, of Hauppauge, walked with her three sons and husband, to support the cause. Her husband pushed their 14-year old autistic son Jackson in a wheelchair.

“EJ has helped my family and tons of school districts around here,” Iallonardi, 42, said. “To know that the money raised today goes back to help individuals with autism is what matters.”

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