Deana Petty and her husband, Doug, are like most grandparents: They dote endlessly on the kids by celebrating their personal milestones and call them, 'the sunshine in their lives, the apples of their eyes, the joy in their hearts.'
When her grandson Mac was diagnosed with autism five years ago at the age of 7, Petty gathered her family in close.
“I heard a doctor say if you meet one autistic child, you’ve met one autistic child,” said Petty. “Translation: there is no template.”
Petty found herself bewildered by the mountain of information on autism she started sifting through when Mac was diagnosed. She supported her daughter as she participated in the Kansas City Walk Now for Autism Speaks and did other things to help the family and be there for Mac.
In 2007, frustrated and convinced there were other grandmothers just outside her front door in the same situation, Petty started GRAM, which stands for Grandmothers Raising Autism Money. The group has three main purposes: autism support, education and fundraising.
GRAM also hosts an annual fall luncheon in conjunction with Autism Speaks. The Tutera family, a well-known philanthropic name in Kansas City with a personal interest in autism, sponsors the event, which will be held this year on Sept. 21 in Weston at The Farmer’s House.
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Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Check out our Grandparent's Guide to Autism!