An Evening for Autism – Background
We got started as a group sitting around one day in a classroom during a break, Sharon Volpe, Joy Manesiotis, and myself. Sharon Volpe participated in the Walk Now for Autism in Pittsburgh on an annual basis. We all agreed and said we should do more to raise money for a cause like this. Of course, we laughed at the idea and said there is no way we could do something like this. It takes too much time and we are all perfectionists to some point. If we did something, we want to do it right. Sharon would not give it a rest and said we could get help. I told her that if she got help, I would take a minor role. Within a few weeks, she had several other NA faculty members lined up with their spouses.
My wife, Annmarie, jumped on board. Nate and Rachel Tengowski joined the committee with the Most Valuable Team Member, Paulette Bundick, a.k.a “The Basket Lady.” Last year, she made 87 Chinese Auction baskets nearly herself. Everyone drops off their various donations that we collect in the local community and then magically she turns them into beautiful baskets. Every year, people rave about the baskets that Paulette creates. Along the way, we have had added other valuable people as well to the committee that wanted to join. We have been lucky to find so many dedicated and selfless people.
Fast forward six years, and we are two months from having our sixth Benefit. I am now the Co-Chairperson, along with Nate. (So much for that minor role, Sharon.) We have raised $68,500 over the past six years, including new record highs for our annual totals of money raised ($20,500) and attendees (241). At this point, the entire committee has worked extremely hard to make this Benefit as fun and streamlined as possible. Unbelievably, this year we are looking to top our annual monetary goal and sell out 250 tickets. Every year, we cast a wider net and more people become involved.
When you take a risk and reach out to people, I am amazed at the amount of people that reach back to give. I think they realize what we are doing and we try to give as much as possible back to the Pittsburgh Walk Now for Autism.
This is a cause that is very important to myself and our family because our son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at an early age. He participated in numerous types of therapeutic sessions from many compassionate professionals from the autism community. It is amazing to look back to see how far my son has come since the diagnosis nearly a decade ago. My wife and I, along with others, wanted to give back to a supportive community that has treated our son so kindly. As rewarding as it was to see our son progress through those early years, I still recall seeing the frustration on the faces parents whose kids did not progress as quickly as they would have wanted. We, as a community, still have work to do for many supportive families that have been affected by autism.
Please join us for this very special evening! The event takes place on Friday, April 5, 2013 from 6:30 – 10:30 PM at the Pittsburgh Marriott North (Cranberry). The cost is $85/person* ($105 after March 29, 2013). Click here to download and print the ticket request form.