Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Autism walk features a very special team

autism walk1W

Alex Totah, holding sign in center front, is joined last year by fellow members of the Davis High School football team as they prepare to take part in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Raley Field in West Sacramento. This year's will be the sixth for Team Alex. Courtesy photo

Last year, more than 100 of them walked.

There were football players and band members, academic standouts and run-of-the-mill Davis kids, all hailing from Davis High School, Da Vinci Charter Academy and Harper Junior High.

They gathered at Raley Field in West Sacramento and they walked as part of Team Alex in the annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks.

It was the fifth year Davis teens walked to raise money and awareness for autism. And while they were there with their friend, classmate and teammate, Alex Totah, they walked for all of the students at their schools, they said, because all of them matter.

Totah, a senior at Da Vinci and a member of the Davis High football team, has autism. He’s also had a tight-knit circle of friends since he was an elementary school student. And while life got more challenging as he moved on to junior high and high school, where he would find himself at times in classes where he didn’t know anyone else, that circle of friends also has grown larger around him.

“Alex is an inspiration to all of us,” said his lifelong friend, Rami Abdallah Rashmawi, a student at Davis High. “He is an incredible source of happiness and pride to all who know him. Alex always faces every day with a positive attitude.”

But he’s not the only student out there with special needs, Rashmawi said, and that’s why for the past five years and again this Sunday, he and many other Davis teens walk: “Because all students at our schools are important and students should not be defined by their academic abilities or labels. Alex is a symbol of this,” Rashmawi said.

Team Alex will make its sixth appearance in the annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Sacramento on Sunday. The event gets underway at Raley Field with pre-walk activities at 9 a.m. The walk itself begins at 11 a.m.

Rashmawi encourages people to sign up to walk, or donate, by visiting http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/sacramento and searching for Team Alex.

In a video team members made this year, students note that autism affects one in 88 children and that more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. They hope by walking, they’ll raise more awareness, not just about those numbers, but about the fact that every number represents a kid, and every kid matters.

Watch the team’s video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDBrDvt94E8.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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