Excitement over zombies taking over the United States is a fever that continues to grow, thanks to the popularity of television shows like The Walking Dead. 

Building on that momentum, the Autism Resource Center of Kokomo (ARCK) will host its annual fund raiser, the Zombie Dash, on Oct. 7 at Jackson Morrow Park. 

“Somebody came up with the idea (for the dash), and it wasn’t something that was being done in Kokomo, so we thought it sounded like fun,” she said.

Registration is $25 and opens at 4 p.m. Early registration for the event is now closed, but those wishing to participate still can do so. They are just not guaranteed a participant T-shirt.

There will be a fun run/walk ahead of the Zombie Dash and will begin at 5:15 p.m. Registration for the shorter course will open at 4 p.m. There will be music and a pre-party atmosphere to kick the night off.

“There will be zombies set up around the park, and for the fun run/walk, they won’t be chasing anybody ... they will just be there looking scary. For the 5K, it starts at 6 p.m. The runners will wear flag football-type belts with flags on them. They’re like health flags. The zombies will try to get your health flags. Jackson Morrow is about a mile around, so they’ll go three times around,” said founder Angela Paul. 

Paul said the event is the organization’s largest fund raiser of the year, and the proceeds help support programs that support families affected by autism.

“We have a lending library, teen and young adult social group,” she said. “We started ARCK back in 2008. It was a couple of families with children with autism looking to support each other. We started with a support group and expanded with the lending library. A lot of families that come in just need someone to talk to, and we do a lot of that. It’s often like, you get a diagnosis and you’re like, ‘Now what do I do?’ Some of the things that you have to learn are with special education and different types of therapies, and it’s almost a whole new language.”

Last year’s event helped the center put a system in place in conjunction with local law enforcement to help track those with autism who wander.
“About 50 percent of children with autism have a tendency to wander off and leave a safe environment,” Paul said. “We worked with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department to get a tracking system in place, and we were able to provide them with $7,500 last year to get that system up and running.”

She also said they have raised their goal for 2017 with the hope of providing an indoor sensory playground so that kids have a place that is safe and fun that allows them to get exercise in a controlled environment.

In its third year, the Zombie Dash will have zombies placed around the walking track at Jackson Morrow Park. Paul said 60 volunteer zombies participated last year, and she expects at least that many, if not more.

Paul also said the dress for participants is up to them, although dressing up does make the event fun.