At this year's Greater Delaware Valley Walk F.A.R. for NAAR awards ceremony, Miss New Jersey 2004 Erica Lynne Scanlon celebrated her 22nd birthday with many new friends who share a special bond with her: autism.
Erica, a resident of Pitman, NJ, represented the state of New Jersey in the 2004 Miss America Pageant in September. Her platform: autism advocacy and awareness. NAAR is thrilled to work with her to increase autism awareness and funding for research during her tenure as Miss New Jersey.
Erica is serving as Honorary Chair of the New Jersey Walk F.A.R. for NAAR program and has become one of the newest volunteers of the National Alliance for Autism Research.
“We are incredibly honored that Erica has joined our team and is helping us to raise funds and awareness for autism research,” said Glenn R. Tringali, NAAR's chief executive officer. “Her excellent platform is raising critically needed awareness about this devastating disorder.”
Erica is an incredibly talented singer, an aspiring stage actress and a person who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Over the past twenty years, she has continued to love and care for her younger sister, Jessica, who has autism.
"Throughout the coming year, I look forward to working with my fellow NAAR volunteers to advance autism awareness and biomedical research that seeks to determine the causes, prevention, treatment and cure for autism spectrum disorders,” said Erica. “My sister, Jessica, has taught me how to overcome seemingly impossible challenges and to keep hope alive. By partnering with NAAR, I am continuing my mission to raise autism awareness and funding for research.”
Erica has already attended NAAR events and taped a public service announcement for the New Jersey Walk program. In addition, she plans on attending Walk events throughout New Jersey and joining NAAR volunteers in the organization's efforts to garner more support for autism research from the federal government by speaking with elected officials in Washington, D.C.
In May 2004, Erica was honored by the New Jersey Center for Outreach Services for the Autism Community (COSAC) as the organization's 2004 Autism Ambassador of the Year. In addition to serving as Honorary Chair of the New Jersey Walk program, she is currently working with COSAC to develop a strategy to establish similar centers for autism outreach services throughout the country.
Erica says that her sister continues to be her main inspiration and has helped her become the person she is today. Erica continues to work toward three main goals: increasing autism awareness, outreach, and helping to increase funding for research and services.
“Jessica cannot speak, so I do my best to ensure that her voice, and the voice of others like her, does not go unheard,” she said. “I encourage people in New Jersey and throughout the country to join me in supporting Walk F.A.R. for NAAR and the National Alliance for Autism Research in our search for answers.”