Hiromi Saeki is the mother of Ryunosuke, a delightful boy touched by autism. They live in Ashiya-shi, Hyogo, Japan, near the port city of Kobe. Hiromi is a tireless advocate for her son, and through her efforts in Light It Up Blue Japan, for all our children and families around the world. Working with friends, parents and other stakeholders, Hiromi helped systematically develop LIUB Japan into one of the most high impact and effective autism awareness events in the world in just a few years, with over 110 Japanese buildings and landmarks, including the iconic Tokyo Tower, already committed to Light It Up Blue on April 2nd, 2014.
She sent the following email to Autism Speaks Co-founder Suzanne Wright:
Thank you for your email.
We decided to bring Light It Up Blue to all of Japan after the Fukusima nuclear disaster in 2011, when there was an earthquake that led to a tsunami which hit the nuclear power plant, causing three reactors to melt down. More than 100,000 people fled their homes. Many people went to stay at places set up by the government for refuge. But autism families couldn’t because here in Japan, many people don’t know about autism. Instead, they stayed in their cars for many days without relief supplies or information.
You see, social understanding about autism is 20-years behind the US. To be in close quarters with other families would lead to embarrassment and shame. This is not the only time this has happened to autism families. Japan is a country subject to frequent earthquakes.
The initial idea to light up towers all over Japan was from my son with autism, Ryunosuke. He loves towers. And so we made it a “road trip.” We visited many towers and asked the owners to participate in LIUB. Ryunosuke cannot say very much but what he does say is a treasure for me. And he knows that LIUB makes people with autism happy.
I think so too. The beautiful blue light makes people with autism happy. I even heard a story where the light transformed a boy with autism. He was afraid of high-rise buildings until he saw them blue and then he could visit skyscrapers!
It is a LIUB miracle...
Thank you very much for doing LIUB.
Thank you for helping us.