This guest post is written by Kaity Meagher, the President and Founder of the Autism Speaks U Chapter at Marist College. Autism Speaks U, an initiative of Autism Speaks that is designed to support college students, faculty and staff in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.
I’ve always been asked why I’m so passionate about children with autism. To be completely honest, I really can’t explain what it is that’s lead me down the path I’m on. But all I know is that I have this strong passion for working with, educating, and raising awareness for individuals on the autism spectrum. For me, it all began working one-on-one at day camp with a now 8 year-old boy named Ryan. We have been a team at camp for 3 summers now, and I’ve never known any other child who can put a bigger smile on my face.
After my first summer with Ryan, my best friend Sydne Jacoby passed away unexpectedly. Sydne was a board member of the Autism Speaks U UMass Amherst chapter, sharing the same desire to support children with autism as I did. After Sydne’s passing, I knew that establishing a chapter at my college, Marist College, was what I needed to do.
The spring semester of 2014 was our first semester as a chapter, and we were more successful than I ever thought we could be. But I think I’ve become most inspired by the students that I was able to work with at the Anderson Center for Autism. What really drives me and fuels my passion to advocate for children with autism, is because of how hard they work to just get through every single day, always trying the best that they can.
My goal for the children I work with is to unlock the unbelievable amount of potential that’s in them all. I do what I do to be there in that moment when they create a breakthrough, but to also be there to pick them up when they’re down on their toughest days. My song “Until All the Pieces Fit” was a way for me to express my appreciation and amazement for these children, and that I’ll never stop fighting for them for as long as it takes; until all the pieces fit.