Open Letter from Andrew Lockwood
Andrew Lockwood poses with State Senator Cathy Young at the 2011 Step Up for Autism.
The following was written by Andrew Lockwood, a young man who is on the Autism Spectrum.
On September 24, 2011, at a former school in Celoron, now known as the Administrative Building for The Resource Center, numerous Autism support groups and various friends, family and sponsors showed up for the second Step up for Autism walk.
This event was created to raise awareness about Autism and to raise funds for support programs like SUCCESS. There were other events that helped to raise awareness about Autism, but they would send the money to other places. In this event, the money tends to stay locally. In the words of Julie McCarthy, “The money raised here, stays here.”
Julie, one of the founders of the Step up for Autism program, and many other parents, had been looking for someone to help raise money and awareness for those who live in the area around Jamestown. As the mother of three boys, one of them being myself (and I’m also the reason that she was looking for such a group in the first place, as I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of Autism), Julie wanted to make sure that she’d be able to give me every chance at a normal life that she could.
She eventually located a group that was doing an event in the area, and that group was going to have a walk at the track at one of the local schools. She signed both me and herself up for it. What I said to her was, “This is but the first step.” She was happy to do it.
However, there was a problem. She, and many of the other parents, had thought that most of the money would help those in the area; it didn’t. The money went to other places.
Disappointed, Julie and other parents met up. Eventually, while they were talking, someone gave voice to an idea that they all had — let’s make our own group, and the money we make will stay here to help our kids. Step up for Autism was born, with the help of a few others. The event consists of a few things: a Chinese auction, a cake auction, plenty of food, music by local bands, face painting, activities, and of course, the walk itself. The walk starts at the Administration building and goes to Celoron Park, where one can get some water, and then back to the Administration building, a distance of 1.5 miles. When the walk is done, people can have lunch. Then there is the cake auction, where people bid on whatever cake that they want. (Sometimes the winning bidder of the cake will cut it up and give out the pieces.) After that, the winners of the Chinese auction, which is a type of raffle, are announced.
Last year, at the first walk, over $6,000 was raised. All of that money stayed locally. I don’t know how much money was raised this year, but I have a guarantee from the horse’s mouth that the money will stay local. And next year, on September 22, 2012, there will be a third walk, and that money will stay local, and so will the money raised by succeeding walks.