Opening Ceremonies for Step Up for Autism 2011
With son Andrew at her side, Julie McCarthy addresses the crowd at Step Up for Autism.
The following remarks were made by Julie McCarthy during the opening ceremonies at Step Up for Autism. Julie, a member of The Resource Center’s Board of Directors and one of the lead organizers of Step Up for Autism, has a son named Andrew who is on the spectrum.
“Good morning and thank you! Thank you to each and every one of you who came out today to take part in our second annual Step Up For Autism Walk!
“Wow! Can you believe it? I can’t! It’s been a very busy year! With your help, last year’s walk rasied $6,000! Money that, yes, stayed locally as promised and was used to continue our newly created socials skills program known as SUCCESS, which stands for Supporting, Understanding, Changing, Coping, and Everyday Social Skills, and for allowing our children and young adults be the success that they are truly meant to be. Thank you!
“Thank you to Paul Cesana and the countless Resource Center staff who have listened to our frustration in the need to create a social skills program right here in Chautauqua County instead of going to Warren, Erie or elsewhere.
“As I said earlier, it’s been a very busy year! While our first walk was being wrapped up, another group was taking flight: Several parents formed the Randolph Area Autism Coalition, and yes, we participated in that walk too! On April 2, we joined in their International Autism Awareness Day! More community support, understanding and awareness raised and friendships made in Cattaraugus County that day!
“The month of April ended with more parents and staff volunteering up in the Northern Chautauqua County Region. Dunkirk hosted the event, and the community came out to show its support of Autism Spectrum Disorders!
“During the summer, we invited area children to participate in designing the T-shirts that you see today. I am happy to say that Mitchell Smith was the winner! Thank you, Mitchell, for taking part in our contest!
“Yes, with your continued help today, we are expanding our social skills program! We have good things planned for this group, but we need your help.
“Everyone needs friends. Even one good friend to help us get through the day; but if we don’t know how to make friends, and for those of us who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as Asperser’s, know firsthand, just how hard it is to make friends, then we are lost. This is a social world. However, because of your help, friendships have been made! We have raised awareness of Autism, and we are starting to be embraced and accepted by our area communities! Thank you!
“Further, allow me to tell you that since our very first Step Up For Autism walk took place, my son, Andrew Lockwood, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, graduated from Jamestown Community College with an associate’s degree in individualized studies and is working with TRC and People Inc. staff to become involved with our community. He has been published in the TRC newsletter; you can see his firsthand account of his experience at Laurel Run in last month’s edition, and his experiences at Camp Onyahsa will be in a future edition. I am sure that his goal of having his book published will become reality someday.
“Before I forget, allow me to say thank you to the mayor of Celoron, Mayor Keeney, and our fellow sponsors of today’s event: 106.9 KISS FM, Cable 8 News, Celoron Hose Company, Countertop Solutions, Cummins Inc., Gamerz Haven, United Refining Company of Pennsylvania, the Untouchables, Village of Celoron, and Zamira.
“As our shirts say, our third Annual Step Up for Autism Event will be September 22, 2012. We will see you then!”