By Kevin Alan Lamb
Certain individuals with tremendous ability recognize destiny in their efforts to fight for individuals born into great circumstance. Val McFarland, founder of Celebrities Against Autism (CAA), works among those individuals every day in support of the public awareness for autism.
“Our number one objective is promoting public autism awareness. We believe that awareness, acceptance and information help families and our society deal with this devastating disorder. Our hope is that people will accept autismwith respect and opens arms, just as they accept individuals with other disorders,” the mother and founder of this great cause said.
Celebrities Against Autism has recently been featured on WXYZ Detroit, Good Morning America, and in Hour Detroit Magazine.
“It’s really exciting because it has never been done before,” McFarland said of their inaugural event on Saturday, April 28.
The first annual event at Dr. Demray’s historic mansion in Northville was attended by over 500 and was a big step in raising public awareness of a misunderstood disorder.
“It was quite a night,” McFarland said. “Everything from live music provided by the St. Mary’s Prep (Orchard Lake) Jazz band, to gourmet food, signature martinis, and even a Kimberly Diamond Courture giveaway.”
Critical to this hope-inspiring organization are the efforts of treasurer Kimberly Petra, who will be hosting a champagne celebration and grand opening event of her new store, June 14, at 1549 Union Lake road, from 5 PM to 9 PM.
“She has been our biggest donor and we are lucky to have her on board,” McFarland said.
Celebrities Against Autism presented the event in partnership between CAA and Dr. William S. Demray of Preservation Dental. Honorees included actors Gary Cole and Holly Robinson Peete. While Cole has been in everything from HBO’s “Entourage” to “Desperate Housewives”, his most notorious role was the dreaded boss, Bill Lumbergh, in the cult classic “Office Space”. Cole’s daughter, Mary, was diagnosed with autism at age 28 months.
Also in attendance were the dashing Erin Nicole, of WXYZ Channel 7 Morning news, and Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves.
“Every aspect of autism is truly devastating: from the magnitude of families affected to the reality that there is no cure… our event celebrates autism heroes,” McFarland said.
The event serves as a fundraiser to issue family grants that directly benefit families for treatment with autism. McFarland encourages public support by visiting CelebritiesAgainstAutism.org to discover events like their wine tasting planned for the fall, cigar night, and for more information regarding volunteers and third party events.
“We recognize autism ambassadors for future generations. Ambassadors are often composed of typical kids and siblings of, that work with children with autism,” McFarland said.
The Center for Disease Control reports that a staggering 1 out of 94 children are diagnosed with autism (1 out of every 58 boys!) Autism is the fastest-growing serious development disability in the United States. The Center for Disease Control has acknowledged autism as a national health epidemic.
“Just An Average Guy”, hosted by publisher Frank Allen will broadcast live, Saturday, June 9 from Main Street Liquor, in Union Lake, as a fundraiser for CAA.
In middle school Kevin worked as a “Bridger”, or assistant for students with Autism. Follow Kevin on Twitter (@ShaggyLamb).
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