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      You can help Shine a Light on Autism awareness

      There are 244 steps that lead up to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse in Hannibal. On April 20th people will be making the climb to Shine a Light on Autism.

      It's exactly 244 steps to the top of the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.

      "Climbing 244 steps is quite a feat," Marlene Rodenbaugh said.

      That's exactly why Rodenbaugh is organizing a lighthouse fitness challenge.

      "I think it's a unique event," she said. "It's different from runs or any kind of fitness events that are local right now."

      This event is about more than getting your heart rate up. "It's to create awareness in our community and surrounding communities about Autism and all special needs children," Rodenbaugh said.

      A cause close to Rodenbaugh.

      "My son Jack, he has Autism," she said.

      Rodenbaugh founded the Shine a Light on Autism organization three years ago to ...

      "... Break down those barriers for people who are unfamiliar with or haven't ever been around or near anyone with special needs," she said.

      This is the third year for the Shine the Light on Autism Lighthouse Challenge. (Watch Kristen and the Shine a Light on Autism team take the Lighthouse Challenge, here.) It provides a recreational and educational opportunity for special needs kids and the community but also serves as a support system for families.

      "I think a lot of times parents and families feel a sense of isolation and/or feeling overwhelmed like your hands are tied, what can you do?" Rodenbaugh said. "This really does make you feel like you're at least taking steps to improve the lives of not only your child but other children."

      And the climb will give you a insight into what a child with Autism goes through.

      "It represents also the challenge," Rodenbaugh said. "You know how much can you do? How much can you commit to? It's a good representation of what these kids do everyday."