Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria Secret model Jacquelyn Jablonski has become a champion for our autism community. Jacquelyn got involved with the cause because of wanting to help people like her brother Tommy who was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Jacquelyn who is now one of our celebrity ambassadors has volunteered countless hours of her time as our spokesperson at our Cantor Fitzgerald 9-11 Charity Day along with hosting 2 charity events of her own to fundraise for Autism Speaks.
Kerry Magro: First off, can you tell us a bit about how you get involved with the autism community?
Jacquelyn Jablonski: I first became involved by attending Autism Speaks’ events with my mom when I first moved to NY. It was amazing to meet so many people related to the cause and to share similar stories. I knew I wanted to do more to help and the team at Autism Speaks inspired me to have an event of my own. It was important for me to not only raise funds, but to help raise awareness and to educate people on how serious autism is. I have had two events so far and currently working on a foundation of my own.
Kerry: Can you tell us a bit more about the foundation?
Jacquelyn: Yes I am in the process of starting my own foundation! The more I became involved in the autism community, the more I realized the lack of opportunities for adults with autism. What happens when their school ends at 21? Do they live at home with their parents? The number of children diagnosed with Autism has drastically increased to 1 in 68, leaving a generation of adults on the spectrum with no where to turn. 90% of adults with Autism are unemployed or underemployed. In the U.S., 500,000 teens with Autism will age into adulthood over the next decade. With this number of individuals “aging” out of their schooling, it is our mission to help these children transition into adulthood.
Kerry: What's the most important thing you've learned from your brother?
Jacquelyn: My brother has taught me to be more patient and compassionate towards others. He has also taught me that family is the most important and I believe he is one of the reasons my family is as close as we are today.
Kerry: What piece of advice would you share with siblings who have a brother or sister on the spectrum?
Jacquelyn: I would advice them to have patience and to never give up. It is important to celebrate every achievement… big or small!
Kerry: What can we expect from you next?
Jacquelyn: Right now I am taking the year to build the foundation. We are working on a website now, but I would suggest checking my instagram/ twitter in the meantime for updates. We are shooting for the first event to be in April 2016!