The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) is taking aim at autism and partnering with NAAR to advance autism research and awareness.
The ATA Kicks F.A.R for NAAR program is a new fundraising event benefiting NAAR that will be conducted throughout North America to raise awareness about autism and the importance role of research. On June 4, 2005, awareness and fundraising events are scheduled to take place throughout the United States and Canada.
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The program was conceived by Erin Baker, the owner of Baker's ATA in Cottage Grove, OR. Erin became a NAAR volunteer after the sudden and tragic death of her 18-year-old sister, Ragan, who had autism. Following Ragan's tragic death, the Baker family made a donation to the Autism Tissue Program. Still, Erin wanted to do more to advance research.
“My baby sister, Ragan, became epileptic when she was eight years old. No specialist could determine the cause until she was diagnosed with autism – three years later," said Erin. "Since there is no set treatment or cure for autism, all of Ragan's social, physical, verbal, and mental accomplishments were done through a very long and frustrating “hit and miss” method. Unfortunately, Ragan wouldn't live to see a cure for the disorder she suffered from for so long. She died in her sleep from a seizure on August 26th, 2004.”
To honor her sister's memory and to help make a difference for families living with autism, Erin developed a way to get her ATA school involved with the inaugural Portland Walk F.A.R. for NAAR event, set for June 4, 2005. From that initial idea, ATA Kicks F.A.R. for NAAR was born - and with the help of Erin and other extraordinary volunteers, NAAR is working to get every ATA school in North America to KICK F.A.R. for NAAR!
One extraordinary volunteer joining Erin in this effort is Diane Myers, the owner of Webster ATA in Webster, TX. Diane is also the mother of teenage son with autism.
"I have seen my son struggle to fit into a world that has little patience with people that are different," said Diane. "I have seen him endure teasing and bullying with greater courage than I could ever muster. And I've witnessed him triumph due in part to the life skills we both have learned as members of the ATA. I have personally seen how involvement in the ATA has given my son and many students with autism an area of success in life, so it is very natural for me to encourage other members of the ATA family to get involved with this important event to raise funds for autism research."
ATA Kicks F.A.R. for NAAR will raise awareness in local communities about autism spectrum disorders and will enable students to work together to raise critically-needed funds for research aimed at unraveling the mysteries of autism to help researchers.
“We are very excited about the ATA Kicks F.A.R. for NAAR program and grateful for the support of this tremendous organization and participating ATA schools throughout North America,” said Glenn R. Tringali, NAAR's CEO. “We are especially thankful for the support of Erin Baker and Diane Myers, whose leadership, drive and determination made this new program possible.”
The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) is the premier North American organization dedicated to the martial arts discipline of taekwondo, and is the founding organization of other international affiliates that include the World Traditional Taekwondo Union (WTTU) and the Songahm Taekwondo Federation (STF). Today, the ATA and its affiliated organizations oversee 1,500 schools and clubs that are registering over 300,000 members worldwide, including 53,000 black belts and 3,000 certified instructors. www.ataonline.com