Khrysta Fiorino is hoping a walk makes a difference in her brother’s life.
The 21-year old college student and Whitehall resident will participate in Sunday’s Upstate New York Autism Awareness sixth annual “Walk for a Difference” at Harry J. Betar Park in South Glens Falls.
The event raises money to support the organization in its efforts to make a difference in the lives of local children affected by autism and other childhood developmental disabilities.
That cause is deeply personal for Khrysta whose 23-year old brother, Donny, is autistic and blind.
“I’m doing this for my brother,” she said. “I came across the event online and thought it would be something good for him.”
Autism is a developmental disability that generally appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting the development of social interaction and communication skills.
Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
One in every 150 children is affected by the disorder.
Growing up with an autistic brother has left an indelible mark on Khrysta, a 2011 graduate of Whitehall High School who is studying education at SUNY Adirondack and wants to be a special needs teacher.
“I want to work with people who are autistic,” Khrysta said, adding that her career choice has been influenced by her experience growing up in a household with an autistic sibling.
For the past several weeks, Khrysta, her mother and father, Elizabeth and Don Fiorino, and her boyfriend, John, and her best friend, Nicole Moses—collectively known as “Team Donny”—have been beating the streets trying to raise money for this weekend’s walk.
Don said the family has received donations from local businesses and organizations such as Putorti’s Broadway Market and the Knights of Columbus. The family will continue to accept donations through Saturday.
Khrysta said this is the first time they’ve participated in the event, which has been held on an annual basis since 2008.
“I’ve done a fundraiser for diabetes before but I’ve never really done anything like this,” Khrysta said.
On Sunday, Khyrsta will stand side-by-side with her brother with the hope that their contributions can make a difference in the lives of those who suffer from autism.
“He’s really excited about it,” Khrysta said.