This guest post is from Doug Krinsky, a Committee member for the Columbus Walk Now For Autism Speaks! Have a walk story you'd like to share? Tell us it at firstname.lastname@example.org! Our 2014 walk season is almost underway! See if there is a walk in your area at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org!
We realized when Michael was only 18 months old that he was different from his twin brother Eric. That is when Kelly and I set to work to figure out how to help him. After 2 ½ years of searching we finally received our official diagnosis of PDD-NOS and realized he had Autism. It was eye opening and yet relieving all at the same time. We had it figured out, and set in motion a plan to help him. The real journey was about to begin.
Along that journey we went through many trials and tribulations, with his public school system, DD system, legal system, legislators, Governors, family and friends. They all had their challenges and rewards. We also saw that things needed to change to help the families because we realized there was an epidemic happening right before our very eyes.
We decided to find partners out there to help and we found many that did help but others that put up roadblocks. It has been frustrating (insurance coverage, public school system and waiver slots) but rewarding as well – smiles on kids and families' faces at the Walks! That is why we were happy to hear when Autism Speaks was coming to Ohio. We needed the power of that brand to help wake people up to the epidemic that is Autism. I joined the initial Executive Committee of the Columbus Walk Now for Autism Speaks, Co-Chaired the walk one year and continue to raise $$ for the walk and raise awareness where ever I go and continue to serve on the committee.
Kelly and I feel it is vitally important to keep our cause “top of mind” for legislators and the general public to understand why the families need services and support. Whether it is insurance coverage, waiver slots, or the Ohio Autism Scholarship Program, we fight almost every week to help the individuals impacted by Autism. As much as we hate the political process, working with the endlessly slow moving government entities, we understand how important they are to the process.
In this battle, I have decided that I needed to raise my bar by getting the industry I work in – furniture and mattresses – involved. I started an event called ”Ante4autism” 6 years ago to raise awareness and $$ for our walk team in Columbus. It started as a relatively small unknown event in 2009 and has grown every year. We have been fortunate that the industry has embraced what we are doing and this year we had over 20 sponsors, over 100 players – including many professional poker players, 13 Co-Hosts and over a dozen celebrities that played in the event in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget last month. Last month, on January 26th, 2014, we raised $47,465 for our team! I never dreamed it would get this big, but each year it continues to grow. I think because so many people are touched by Autism in many ways – family, friends, or co-worker – and they all want to help. It has become so popular that next year we plan to Live Stream the final table at the Golden Nugget on the web!
I have come to realize that the vast majority of people want to help and care about the families. However, I have also learned that there is no better advocate than you or your son with Autism or daughter with Autism. I learned a long time ago from a real pro, Jon Peterson, there is nothing better than a motivated parent on a mission! I have found mine and will continue on this path, probably until my last breath!