Central Georgia Autism hosts bike race supporting Ava’s Law

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – One hundred miles sounds like a lot, but for some cyclists, it’s just another weekend.

Saturday, however, was special for day Middle Georgia woman who has a passion for helping autistic children.

“We had done 5Ks in the past, but we wanted to take it to a different level,” said Janet Ward with Central State Autism.

Ward wanted to change it up, but she needed something with wheels.

“My son was learning to ride his bike–and he’s on the spectrum, he has PDD,” said Ward.

Ward’s son has a form of autism.

“Riding a bike was hard,” said Ward. “It took him nine months. I had friends that rode and I contacted them and I said, ‘let’s do a bike ride.'”

So, instead of a 5K run, Janet added some spokes and rubber and helped create A Journey For Autism.

The race took place Saturday morning, with cyclists participating in races with different lengths–100, 66 or 33 miles.

Registration fees went to fund scholarships to help educate autistic children.

“I think people are starting to listen,” said Ward. “They’re listening. I’ve been doing this ten years, and I feel like they care.”

Anna and Ava Bullard couldn’t have been happier.

“To come out and to have all these people here behind us, pushing us saying, we’re with you, it’s so important,” said Anna Bullard, Ava’s mother.

And for 9-year-old Ava, who is the namesake for Ava’s Law–those bikers were literally behind her.

She led the charge as cyclists raced out from the starting gate.

“It was pretty cool,” said Ava Bullard.

Ava’s Law went to the Georgia legislature this session.

“This year, we had a bill to help children with autism where they could access treatment–treatment that a doctor prescribes that makes them better, really,” said Anna Bullard.

It sounded good to Anna, but the bill failed.

And that’s one reason why John Cozart from Big Ring Racing wanted to help put this race together.

“You see the children and you interact with them, and it just means a lot to see the progress when they get this type of help,” said Cozart.

And for now, progress is slow with Ava’s Law–the bill will go to the Capitol next session.

“You take what you can get, and you just keep building to that law,” said Ward.

“I know how Ava was,” said Anna Bullard. “And I know if she hadn’t gotten treatment, she would be in a special education classroom, she would not be talking, not be able to feed herself. And you cannot put a price on that.”

Ward says Georgia is one of 16 states in the U.S. that does not require health insurance to cover autism treatments like speech therapy and behavioral health treatments.

To learn more about Ava’s law, you can visit the Ava’s Law Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/avaslaw?ref=br_tf.

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