Running for Cole

Ascension Catholic eighth-grader Luke Spano finished fifth place overall running in honor of his cousin Cole Castrogovannie at the Active for Autism annual 5K Run/Walk at the Louisiana State Headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Ascension Catholic eighth-grader Luke Spano has won championships running for the high school cross country team, and one would think nothing would come close to the feeling of being a champion. Saturday, Spano ran for his cousin Cole Castrogovannie at the Active for Autism annual 5K Run/Walk at the Louisiana State Police Headquarters in Baton Rouge. Spano finished fifth overall, but first in his age division. In comparing the feeling of being a champion and running for his cousin – he can’t.

“It feels really good to be able to support him in this way,” Spano said.

Castrogovannie has a condition known as autism. Autism is a disorder learned early in childhood and is characterized by impaired social or communication skills, repetitive behaviors, or a restricted range of interests, according to the Center for Disease Control.

However, Castrogovannie has a support system that helps raise awareness of his condition as new data was released this year that says one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism, according to the CDC. Castrogovannie is backed up by his very own, “Cole’s Crew.”

Cole’s Crew is made up of several related and unrelated persons who draw to Castrogovannie personally. Spano does his support in running, while ACHS ninth grader Bailey LeBlanc decided to raise some money to help Cole’s Crew-

“I just always wanted to help in supporting and raising awareness for autism,” LeBlanc said. “I love doing it.”

Castrogovannie’s parent’s Blaine and Trish said it’s very nice to have the support Cole’s Crew has.

“Seeing family, friends and people from the community come out here and support us is really heart-warming and really nice,” Blaine Castrogovannie said.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez proclaimed April as Autism Awareness Month in Ascension for children like Castrogovannie. However, for Blaine Castrogovannie seeing Spano run in his son’s honor was “really touching.”

“Luke (Spano) did really well,” Blaine Castrogovannie said. “Cole is having a great time and everybody’s having a good time out here.”

Trish Castrogovannie added: “We want to thank everybody for the love and support they’ve shown us. We appreciate it all.”

“We’re doing everything we can to let people know it’s out there and it’s growing. It was 1 in 80 last year at this time.”