SAVOY, Ill., (WCIA) — When you’re at the grocery store, playing sports, or hanging out with friends, loud noises and bright lights may not bother you, but that’s not the case for everyone. Especially those with autism.

On Saturday in Savoy, hundreds gathered to spread awareness about it.

Many families did just that between a walk, sensory-friendly activities and a resource fair.

It’s all in connection to CU Autism Network’s walk and resource fair.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 36 kids have been diagnosed with autism, and it’s nearly four times more common in boys than girls.

Now, many organizations are trying to help.

“Sometimes especially when you get that autism diagnosis, the next question is now what? Where do I go? What do I do?” Daniel Fox, CEO of the CU Autism Network, said.

Many people are working to answer those questions through Saturday’s 12th annual event.

The goal is simple, to help kids like Rocket Hardy.

“I am like everyone else, but a bit different,” he said.

Hardy’s mom, Julie Duvall, is the president of the CU Autism Network. She knows firsthand how a diagnosis can impact a family.

“Oftentimes, it’s hard for us to go to movies, we have a Christmas event and it’s hard for us to go see Santa,” Duvall said.

She knows she’s not alone, and that others have a hard time with lighting, noises and smells.

When Duvall helped organize this year’s autism walk, she made sure there were plenty of sensory-friendly activities.

“This is just an environment that we all get it and we all look out for each other’s kids,” she added.

This year’s event is in honor of the late Senator Scott Bennett. He was a big advocate for people in the disability world.

“We want to make sure that the people in this disability world know that there are people who care and are going to do everything we can to pick up that mantle and move forward and find resources and create awareness around this really important issue,” State Senator Paul Faraci (D-Champaign) said.

Educators and volunteer groups said they’re happy politicians like Faraci are carrying on Bennett’s legacy and advocating for people with disabilities.

“No matter how different you are, no matter how you learn, you are just as important and the things that make you special are what make you stand out,” Dr. Jennifer Ivory-Tatum, superintendent of Urbana Schools, said.

“It is absolutely important to understand that we need to accept autism in our community,” Fox added.

Fox said if you get are diagnosed with autism and don’t know where to turn, he wants to connect you to people who can help. To find those resources, visit this website.

Saturday was also the kickoff to the Network’s push for a regional autism support center in Champaign. They’re working to raise one million dollars to build it. To donate, click here.