Autism Speaks Walk draws thousands to Rose Bowl in Pasadena

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Thousands attended the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena Saturday.

Opening ceremonies for the 14th annual 5K event kicked off at 9 a.m. The walk benefits autism research and programs to raise awareness.

"I like to call this the sea of hope. Fifty-five thousand people come out to this for a reason, they come out here looking for answers, they come out looking for a sense of belonging, a sense of togetherness and they find it here, and that's why they come back every year," said Matt Asner, director of corporate development for Autism Speaks.

ABC7 is a proud sponsor of the event. Eyewitness News anchor Phillip Palmer served as the emcee. Eyewitness News anchors Ellen Leyva, Coleen Sullivan and David Ono were also on hand to meet viewers and sign autographs.

April 2 is also known as World Autism Awareness Day. Officials say the event has been held to help raise crucial funds to help change the future for all of those struggling with autism spectrum disorder.

"I wouldn't change my son for anything. Autism has actually brought a lot of wonderful things to my life because I've met so many wonderful people, and we've really come together as a community," said Jennifer Jones, whose eldest son is severely affected by autism.

Watch Chelsea Edwards' live report in the video above
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