This Saturday was the Walk Now for Autism Speaks 2011 in Charlotte, NC and various other cities in North Carolina. More than 9,000 people gathered together early Saturday morning and walked laps around the NASCAR race track all with one mission in mind.
Many of my peers ask me what my connection is to the autism community, and I can give them the simple answer, "I have a cousin with autism," however, this is not what got me started on my mission. My cousin lives in Germany, so I didn't even know for sure that he had autism until after I started working with the community. The truth is, a bus ride is what got me motivated. I walked on the high school bus and saw a group full of boys tormenting a classmate of ours. It was more than obvious that she had special needs, and I just couldn't believe that someone would attack her because of this. They threw her backpack from aisle to aisle, letting papers and books fly across the bus. Why? Could it really be because she was different? Nobody came to her rescue, not even the bus driver. I was the only one who stepped in to help her. I was so nervous as I stood up and shouted at the boys to stop. This was so out of my character, and the words burned my throat as I pushed them out. Someone had to speak on her behalf. After I spoke, the bus was quiet. Then the anger turned on me. I didn't even care, because I knew that the girl would be safe for now. I bent down and helped her collect her papers and let her sit with me. She acted as if nothing had happened and started talking to me about various different subjects; however, I knew that was her way of saying "thank you."
Since that day, my life has changed. I've made it my mission to help with the autism community as much as possible. I started a club for high schoolers at my old high school called, Advocates for Equality, then started a non-profit, Party For Autism, which has a summer camp, Camp Darrell. This year, I am the President and Founder of the Autism Speaks U chapter at my university, and yesterday, I was offered a position at the Autism Society of NC!
I found it important to share this with you all since this is such a big part of my life. I also would like to ask you to help out as well! We are entered in a photo contest to bring money back to the autism community in Charlotte. All you have to do is click the link below and "like" our picture on Facebook! This would help us out tremendously in helping plan affordable events for parents and their children with special needs.
We have until Oct 14th for you to "like" our photo. We got a late start, so please help us catch up! I thank you with all of my heart!