The Turning Pointe Autism Foundation organizes their third annual Pumpkin Race

Autism awareness is something that has been given a greater push for the past several years. Organizations like the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation work to support severely impacted kids with communication and behavior skills through education, while also creating events that will help them feel included in the larger Naperville community. One such event is the annual Naperville Pumpkin Race event, which took place on October 27, 2018.

The all-inclusive events’ main selling point is the use of pumpkins as vehicles. People can purchases kits to give their pumpkins wheels and decorations. They then compete in a series of races that offer multiple prizes. Other events include a costume contest, a bun throwing game, art studios, and several other forms of entertainments for all age groups.

“It was a really good turn out. The pumpkins are so unpredictable, which is kinda cool. You never know which way they’re gonna go, but when they go the right way it’s fun,” participant Justin Carroll said.

But beyond just being a fun time for kids and family, it was also described as a good way to support people with autism and allow them to build their skills in communication. The organization strives to support kids with autism achieve their goals and develop skills, and allowing them to assemble these vehicles is something they hope can teach them valuable lessons. Several impacted children, many of whom are students at Turning Pointe, all participated in the event without judgment and were given the opportunity to enjoy themselves in a welcoming environment.

“An organization in California came up with the idea of the pumpkin race when a man strapped his pumpkin to a skateboard, and then he thought it would be a great job for students with autism to assemble these racing kits. So this pumpkin race, as fun as it is, is also really a vocational opportunity for students at Turning Pointe,” Executive Director Carrie Provenzale said.

All the profits from the event go directly toward the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation. Those funds will then go toward buying more parts to help develop the skills of those with autism and further support their education and inclusion.

“The event is all inclusive, so everybody can have fun here. Whether you have autism, if you don’t have autism, if you love somebody with autism, everybody is gonna have fun. And the fact that they helped put together the kits and learn the process of doing things step by step is really special,” The River reporter and Emcee Danielle Tufano said.