Nicole is a sophomore at Carrolton School and the top team captain for Miami. This year their team, Team Carrollton, has raised over $40,000.
I first got involved with Autism Speaks 6 years ago as co-captain of Team Belen. My brother Ricky founded the team and it soon became the biggest school fundraiser in Miami Dade County. Ricky graduated and started college, and at that time I founded Team Carrollton. We informed the student body about autism by holding informative meetings about Autism in our schools; we brought speakers from NAAR/Autism Speaks, UM-CARD, parents of children with Autism to speak. From inception, Team Carrollton has been the highest school fundraiser in Miami Dade County. This year we are the highest fundraising overall team in Miami Dade County. Motivation comes easy. My brother Juan has autism and I see and live the struggle every day.
One of the ways my family and I have found to deal with this is to spread awareness and collect funds to do research. This assures that people that are not “yet” affected by autism understand our brothers and sisters with autism, and contributes to eventually find a cure so no other child will ever be affected. Awareness also brings success in our fight. As people become aware and understand the odds of this epidemic, they are more inclined to help.
We do not “hide” our brother, but welcome questions about his condition as an opportunity to educate others. We need to assure that our brothers and sisters with autism are cared for and loved when we are not around and that a cure is soon found. Carrollton has been a great and natural venue for my fundraising efforts.
I have found tremendous inspiration in my faith and from my educators, and a lot of help from my sisters in the Sacred Heart as well as their families and this has made the task fun and much easier. We need to continue the fight and let our actions speak.
In the words of our founder St. Madeline Sophie Barat “Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world”. My favorite part about Walk Now for Autism Speaks is that I can share stories with the people that I meet and hear theirs. It also gives me hope that since it is so big that all of the money that is raised will help to find a cure.
For more information about the Miami Walk, please visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/autismspeaks.miami.