ST. CHARLES, Mo. – April is National Autism Awareness Month, and a mother of two children with autism ran 44 miles Sunday in hopes of educating and inspiring others.

Liz Gundlach is a boy mom, but not just any boy mom. Her 6-year-old Rowan and 7-year-old Waylon both have autism.

“My son Waylon is non-verbal, but has some communication skills coming along,” Gundlach said. “His temperament is a little bit more mild-mannered and easygoing, whereas my other son, Rowan, is verbal and has energy, like no other—just constant go, go, go—a ball of energy. They’re both sweet, but they both come with just different interests and just a lot of fun personalities between the two of them.”

Just before 7 a.m., Gundlach laced up her running shoes to start an 11-hour journey for World Autism Awareness Day.

“I was encouraging moms to come out, you know, parents, whomever to come out, so if people wanna walk, it may slow me down a little bit more, but I’m fine with that,” she said. “I mean, I have the park all day to myself.”

By 9:30 a.m. Gundlach was on mile 11 at Wapelhorst Park in St. Charles. The purpose in doing this is to educate people about the growing number of children on the autism spectrum. She dedicated each mile to a family impacted by autism.

“The first 43 are gonna be for {someone’s} neurotypical child,” she said. “It’s that 44th mile that was gonna be for our kiddos with autism.”

Back in 2021, the CDC reported 1 in 44 kids were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, but in March that statistic was updated to 1 in 36 kids. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

“We’re encountering more and more families with kiddos on the spectrum, so I feel like I knew the numbers are gonna eventually change,” Gundlach said. “I think I was more surprised by how big of a jump it was going from 1 in 44 to 1 in 36. That’s drastic actually.”

All the money she raises will go to the United Services for Children based in St. Charles County. They provide occupational, speech and language therapy for children diagnosed with autism. The nonprofit means a lot to Gundlach and her family.

“With my son Waylon we started him immediately {there} at two-years-old because he had such a regression where he lost all verbal skills, eye contact, social skills, everything,” she said. “We watched our son return to us slowly, but he returned to us through their early intervention program.”

The organization is collecting donations at Gundlach challenged supporters to donate $44 to United Services, in honor of the 44th child. The online portal accepts donations of any size.

Later this month, Gundlach will speak on April 22 at the ninth annual Exploring the Spectrum Awareness Event in St. Charles. The event is organized and sponsored by BJC Healthcare. You can find out more at