Devoted families and supporters braved the rain Tuesday to join the annual Light It Up Blue Autism Awareness Walk at Lions Club Park in Killeen.

The showers were no match for the crowd of more than 200, some making two or more laps the length of the park.

The main goal of the walk was to bring autism awareness to Central Texas in observance of World Autism Awareness Day and World Autism Awareness Month, co-director FeFee Franklin said.

“Autism is the number one diagnosis in the world — it’s 1 in 44 right now,” she said. “So we want to get the word out to all the people around the Killeen area. Everyone is out here to support autism (awareness), even in the rain.”

Local businesses, including Papa John’s, Dominoes Pizza, the Warrior Way Commissary and Family Dollar Store, donated food and drinks for the event, while representatives from several Central Texas organizations were on hand with information about local resources.

Chris Gegenheimer, systems navigator for Fort Hood’s Exceptional Family Member Program, has attended the walk since 2010.

“It’s really exciting for me because you can see every different type of case,” he said. “Plus it’s free, it’s fun and it’s good exercise, too.”

Judith Rolben, whose 7-year-old son suffers from autism, weighed in on the day’s significance.

 “It’s a good thing because people can learn more about autism,” she said. “Some people don’t have a clue what autism is and how it affects families.”

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