By Daniela Foley
The inaugural Puzzle Pieces of Our Community event was held to honor those individuals and corporations who have supported the autism community. The main honoree and keynote speaker was Senator Marco Rubio who gave an incredible address about his experience with autism both politically and personally. He spoke about his involvement in the process of passing insurance reform here in Florida. He touched on his personal connection through members of his staff with children on the spectrum. I think the most impactful part of his address was his passion for wanting to take swift and bold action because of the staggering number of people in the United States living with autism in the United States today. He is resolute in his desire to ensure that we take notice as a nation as the disorder will impact us as a nation. (I’m not sure we could have written it better if we did his speech ourselves). He moved everyone in that room.
The other honorees included:
Baptist Health of South Florida for their South Miami Hospital Child Development Center which offers comprehensive diagnostic and early intervention services which is the greatest example of their commitment to helping families living with Autism.
CBS4 for excelling at creating awareness about autism research, disseminating important information to the community about services.
Greenburg Traurig for 10 years of support for the Miami Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Their role is instrumental in providing families with a day of sharing, support and hope.
Univision for being a social worker to the Spanish speaking minority that desperately needs vital information regarding services, resouces and treatments.
The evening was a success on all levels. The Senator confirmed his attendance only 4 weeks prior to the event but we sold enough tickets and tables to fill the room in that short time period. His keynote speech was both informative and inspiring! The silent and live auctions combined a significant portion of the fundraising effort and “Fund the Mission” was particularly successful raising more than $10,000 in a period of about 10 minutes. Most importantly, awareness was raised within the corporate community with individuals giving after the event and asking how to get involved with future events including the Walk. There is no greater reward than seeing how people are touched by the cause.
This event grossed over $100,000 which is a tremendous success for an inaugural event and I think a testament to the incredible efforts of a committee determined to reach our goals. None of which is possible without the fearless leadership of Lula Folgosa. It is her selfless giving of time, energy and love that we were able to have this event and lay such a strong foundation for the future of events like this here in Miami.