An Even Sweeter 16
My name is Meghan des Groseilliers and I’m a sophomore at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. My 10-year-old brother Robby was diagnosed with PDD/NOS eight years ago. Over the years, living with autism has deeply impacted me. I have watched my brother both struggle and succeed daily in most everything he does. Because of this experience, I wanted to make a difference for children diagnosed with autism and their families. I have walked for Cure Autism Now and subsequently, Autism Speaks. So the choice of this organization, which is near and dear to my heart, as the recipient of a fundraiser was a simple one. For my “Sweet 16” birthday party on March 20, I invited 150 of my friends to a dance party at a local fire hall. Instead of receiving birthday gifts, I asked my friends to make a donation to Autism Speaks and we raised $3,200. There were three key reasons for doing this, the first of which was to help Autism Speaks help families like mine. But the other two reasons were just as important. First, the party helped raise awareness of autism with teens in my community. It was remarkable to see the number of raised hands when Christina Carty (Greater Delaware Valley Regional Walk Director) asked how many people had a family member or knew of somebody affected by autism. This is important because we need to know that there are others out there to talk to about our common feelings and struggles. The video and statistics shown at the party gave us a clear picture of the proliferation of autism and the limited funding it receives. Finally, this party was an incredible lesson in giving and I hope other kids will do the same with a charity of their choice. In the end, we all had a great time socializing and dancing for a wonderful cause. Even Robby danced and enjoyed the party as well, showing my friends that even though he’s on the spectrum, he’s no different than them – he’s a kid who wants to have a great time in support of a great cause.