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One young man remembers many others

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Today is Light it Up Blue Day for Autism Speaks. While people don’t typically wear blue lights to show their support, one young man remembered that today was a special day and wanted to show his support in a rather unique fashion. He will be dressing is all blue clothing – lighting himself up blue!

The great thing about this boy lighting himself up blue is that he is in general support of Autism Speaks. Drew Stoneburner, a 14-year-old from Illinois, has volunteered to teach religious education at St. Michael this fall and once in a while there will be a child with Autism in a Shepherding class; giving him the opportunity to help and to learn about people with this complex neurodevelopment disorder.

Drew also tries to put his best foot forward when it comes to being personally involved with a family, directly or indirectly, that has a family member diagnosed on the Spectrum. One boy he thought of today is Beau Howell. He wanted Beau to know that he remembered him today and thinks of him constantly and wants to do whatever it takes to draw awareness so that people like Beau feel just as much a part of society as everyone else does.

Stoneburner not only tries to raise awareness for Autism Speaks, he developed his own foundation at the age of 11 and has donated hundreds of dollars to various organizations (Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton, Illinois and Save-A-Vet in Lindenhurst, Illinois) in the name of homeless veterans. He calls his foundation the Nick Larson Foundation in honor of a young man from his community that died on his brother Reese’s 10th birthday in Fallujah. Reese has since decided to join the army after he finishes his degree at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

It takes a group of community members to get involved in activities like this young man is doing in order to get appropriate changes to occur. When someone starts out young, the chances of them continuing to be involved in public relations is practically a given. We truly need more individuals like him in order to make a difference.

So, in order to get involved, you don’t have to light up an entire building blue today, you can start out small. Wear a blue shirt with your blue jeans, purchase an Autism Speaks pin or rubber bracelet; whatever you do decide to do, remember that it is a good thing! Following Drew Stoneburner’s lead will get you and everyone else out there somewhere and that is a positive change!



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