This blog post is by Shawna Horn, Director of Corporate Relations.
World Autism Awareness Day was something to be in awe of in Phoenix, Arizona this week - thank you to our friends from BIGFOOT 4X4! Approximately 150 people came to the University of Phoenix Stadium parking lot on Tuesday night proudly wearing blue, ready to celebrate Light It Up Blue! And wow, did Phoenix come to light! BIGFOOT 4X4 hosted Autism Speaks, and the Phoenix community with a FREE BIGFOOT 4X4, Original Monster Truck, car crush! Attendees were able to come to an early “pit party” where they were allowed to see the trucks up-close, and take pictures with the BIGFOOT drivers and crew. In addition, free blue glow-bracelets were handed out to everyone to make the parking lot shine! And once the sun set, our very-own Autism Speaks sponsored monster-truck lit up blue and shined across the desert.
This event was a true representation of a community coming together. Families affected by autism could feel safe, welcome, and proud in this environment. The Autism Speaks staff, our volunteers, and our friends at BIGFOOT could feel the warmth, too. BIGFOOT made sure the car crush was done by their only battery-operated, electric monster truck in an effort to eliminate loud noise. The calm sound of the giant truck engine was soothing to the children and adults alike.
Westgate Entertainment District, the neighbor to the stadium, participated by lighting their WaterDance fountain blue right at 6pm. In addition, the local AMC movie theater sent over 10 volunteers to hand out popcorn and many of the surrounding restaurants participated by handing out coupons as well as offering a give-back program to Autism Speaks if people dined in their establishments last night and showed their blue glow-bracelets.
Light It Up Blue is a great way to bring communities and the world together in an effort to bring illumination to the term “autism” and the Phoenix/BIGFOOT community did just that last night. As Phoenix lit up blue, and the children watched the monster trucks in awe, time seemed to stand still.