This by is Ann Gibbons, Executive Director, National Capital
Sometimes I get discouraged. The slow progress of research and discovery; the painstaking process my son goes through when learning a new skill; the number of times we parents have to reach out to each other to steady one another on an often rocky road. But a couple things happened recently that made me sit up and cheer at my desk.
I read a note from my boss, Mark Roithmayr, who celebrated the opening of a national autism diagnostic and treatment center to serve families across Albania. It will also support regional development through the Autism Speaks’ Global Autism Public Health Initiative.
“We are one organization among many,” Mark wrote. “We are largely supported by families – those who walk and fundraise, one dollar at a time, to change the world. It’s working.”
Now spin the globe half a world away and land in Pasadena, Maryland. Here we met the seventh grade students at the Chesapeake Bay Middle School and their teacher, Yvonne Embrey. Pasadena is a small town—12,000 residents—in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay. It is not a wealthy town by American standards, but it is an incredible place. Yvonne wrote us last April: “My 7th grade students at Chesapeake Bay Middle School are doing a fundraiser for autism as a service learning activity. In class, the students learned basic information about autism and two students spoke to the whole group of 120 students about their autistic brothers. The students gathered pledges and completed a walkathon on April 27 at Chesapeake High School.” This was just the beginning of a yearlong dedication to learning about autism and working for our mission. By year end, the students have raised over $16,000 for Autism Speaks.
The folks in Pasadena, Maryland did not have to support our cause…but they did. And their acts of kindness are felt here, at home, in the families struggling in their homes in their own school district; and in the homes on the other side of the globe. It is time to listen, as our motto reads; and we are listening, together.