Publication: Bendigo Advertiser
Author: Wendy Williams
THE whole community is rallying behind “hero” Mitchell Bourke ahead of his Autie Walk this Sunday.
Mitchell, 12, who has autism and schizotypal disorder, will walk nearly 20 kilometres to raise money for an autism resource centre.
All of the children from the three Jenny’s Early Learning Centres across Bendigo wore their trainers on Wednesday and walked around kinder to show their support.
Strathfieldsaye kinder teacher Sara Fletcher said his actions made him a hero.
“We have been talking about what makes a hero, it is not necessarily superpowers but being a nice person, with manners, who helps people out,” she said.
“Mitch came and spent time with the kids and we did an obstacle course and a walk around.
“The kids loved it and it was great to put a face to name. He didn’t have a cape or superpowers but he is doing something wonderful for other people.
“It is good to get the message out to parents and the wider community.
“There are families here that have autism in their life and we need to break the stigma.”
The three centres in Bendigo raised about $150 through gold coin donations and the owners in Sydney have agreed to match that dollar for dollar.
On Thursday Mayor Barry Lyons also presented Mitch with a cheque for $2000 on behalf of the City of Greater Bendigo.
“Autism is pretty prevalent in most of communities in some shape or form,” he said.
“This young lad has decided to do something about it and I think it is a great cause.”
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is scheduled to present Mitchell with a cheque on Saturday morning.
Mitchell hopes to raise $25,000 by walking from Epsom to Kangaroo Flat.
His mum Mychelle Bourke said that they were on target.
“It has been absolutely amazing,” she said.
“I am so proud of Mitch and the way he has stood up and told his story and been so adult like.”
Mitchell is expected to arrive at Bunning’s in Kangaroo Flat about 1pm.
There will be face painting, a jumping castle and a raffle.The family will also give away a diamond ring worth $700 to a mum of a child with autism.