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We’ve come a long way baby

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A few years ago, I was blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime with my Church, St. Michael, in Wheaton, Illinois. I was able to lead the Special Needs Ministry and did so with pride.

During my too short years there, I was able to learn a great deal about many of the Needs that the children had. One that stuck out was Autism.

In just the short time that I was working there, the number of children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum grew by leaps and bounds to some outstanding number. It was really something to be concerned about. At the time, I was also writing for Examiner, and the more I looked into the increase, the more disturbing it became!

Finally, a really great organization, Autism Speaks, reached out to me and asked me to write about their Light It Up Blue Campaign. I was so proud to be, what I considered, an integral part of getting the word out.

In the meantime, I have begun my own business, Time to Care; an elderly caretaker business that allows me to use my credentials and compassion from my days at St. Michael. It also allows me to meet some wonderful families that tie me back into my old stomping grounds.

Beau Howell is one such link. I have never met Beau, but have met his parents and have the pleasure of working with his grandparents.

Beau is a prime example of what I wanted to accomplish during my days at St. Mike’s. This young man has Autism, but does not let it stop him.

A short time ago, Beau got his television debut as his story about scoring the final basket for Trinity Classical Academy hit the airwaves. Thanks to Desert Chapel’s head coach for teaching his team that even a loss is a gain in this case. Both teams, Beau’s and his opponents made certain that in the final 40 seconds of the game that Beau scored his first and only basket of the season. That is team spirit. That is good sportsmanship. That is team pride!

As Liz, Beau’s grandmother spoke about her very special grandson, you could see the gratification she felt to have such a wonderfully successful boy in her family. As she said, if it weren’t for those that help fund and develop the gifts that these children have to offer, they would continue to be overlooked and left behind as when she was a child in school. Both Liz and Jim, Beau’s grandfather, are just so grateful for organizations like Autism Speaks, schools like Trinity Classical Academy for giving kids like Beau a fighting chance, and people like Beau’s parents, Stark and Megan Howell, for helping Beau to succeed in life by getting the help that he deserves.

As more information about Autism comes to the forefront, it is easier to teach acceptance, respect and even gratitude like that displayed by the Desert Chapel team. Autism is not going away, but organizations like Autism Speaks make it more bearable. I am just happy I can still be involved.

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