NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gray skies and soaking rain added to the eeriness of the Seventh Annual Birch Family Halloween Run for Autism, but it did not take away from the spirit.

Many still came in costume but added an extra layer to stay dry as the race set off from West 23rd near Pier 64.

“It’s very spooky and scary,” participant Lia Santiago told CBSN New York’s Natalie Duddridge. “We’re here to support Birch Family Services.”

(Credit: CBS2)

“It kept me a little bit more, like, sweaty and warm,” runner Justin Pallenik said of his shark costume. “It was blowing in our faces, but it was worth it. It was really, really fun.”

The 5K event raises money and awareness for people with autism and developmental disabilities.

“Today my costume is being a hero to people with autism,” participant Sam Gotts said. “It was fun. I always come out to support this as someone on the autism spectrum. When I was in college, I used resources and now to help people with more severe autism and such, to support their placement and everything, means a lot to me.”

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Birch Family Services pairs people with jobs and provides education and support programs for children and adults.

“It’s important so you can support the school and anything the school needs,” participant Isabella Santiago said.

“We operate early childhood programs, preschools and school-age programs for children with autism and other developmental disabilities,” Birch Family Services CEO Matt Sturiale said.

At the event Sunday morning, organizers said they were on track to raise $80,000 that will go towards providing support for more than 2,000 families per day across the city.

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