Raleigh Student Gives Time to Help Others

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At just 12 years old, Vibhu Kumar Subramani is a successful and innovative fundraiser for the Autism Society of North Carolina. Vibhu, who attends Carnage Middle School in Raleigh, raises money by collecting and recycling used cooking oil with the company Key Energy, based in Pittsboro.

The seed for Vibhu’s project was planted when he was even younger. In 2010, when he was vacationing at Disney World with his family, he saw a person with autism and wanted to understand more about her. “My parents told me that I could help if my empathy could be turned into contributing my share toward her benefit,” Vibhu said.

vibhu-oilIn a little more than a year, Vibhu has raised more than $300 to benefit individuals and families affected by autism. He spends a couple of hours each month distributing brochures and collecting used oil from households. Key Energy then picks up the oil from his house. The company also collects oil directly from restaurants that have signed a contract with Vibhu. He is then paid for the oil that is collected and donates that money to ASNC.

Helping ASNC is the right thing to do, Vibhu says, and this particular project also benefits the environment by properly disposing of waste oil. In his letter to prospective clients, Vibhu tells them “we can turn the waste cooking oil into bio-diesel and eliminate some CO2 from our atmosphere.”

“We are so impressed with Vibhu, who at such a young age has channeled his passion for the environment into helping individuals with autism,” said Kristy White, ASNC Chief Development Officer. “He clearly is going to be a strong leader in the future, and this experience will help him toward his goals.”

Vibhu says he plans to keep up his fundraiser until he goes to college, “donating to help the people who need help most.” He also spends some of his free time volunteering with children with autism.

Vibhu aspires to be a doctor someday, and his compassion for others and his work ethic will surely carry him far.

 

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TIPS Serves Adults with Autism

tips-167Serving others is obviously important to members of the Triangle Indian-American Physicians Society (TIPS); they are, after all, in health care. But serving outside of their chosen careers is also important to them. For years, members have volunteered their efforts and expertise at free clinics all around the Triangle and at a yearly free screening.

 

Three years ago, TIPS wanted to give back to the local community in a different way. They worked with friends and local business leaders to research charities and decided the Autism Society of North Carolina had the kind of impact they were seeking.

 

“ASNC has been the leader in helping not only families but adults with autism. Some of the success stories of adults being able to be a functioning part of our society really hits close to home,” a TIPS board statement said. “We as health-care providers are always trying to make a positive impact on patients, and we feel ASNC also is doing the same for people living with autism in our state.”

 

Several TIPS members have loved ones with autism and others frequently work closely with patients with autism as in their health-care practices. In addition, ASNC has supported multiple adults with autism who have gained meaningful employment at one member’s local Raleigh pharmacy.

 

TIPS has held three events to benefit ASNC: two golf tournaments and a gala with live and silent auctions. These events raised close to $100,000 to benefit ASNC’s Employment Supports department, which enables adults with autism to become contributing members of society and feel a part of the communities in which they live.

 

The events also brought in hundreds of attendees, raising awareness of autism in the community, a success that the TIPS board notes is immeasurable.

 

tips-133Kristy White, Chief Development Officer, praised the dedication and time that the members of TIPS put into their events to give adults with autism full and meaningful lives. “I think it is so remarkable what they give on a daily basis through their work, and then to do this for us in their spare time. They spend every moment making a difference in each and every life.”

 

We are grateful for the partnership of TIPS and excited to see its future!

 

The TIPS board stated, “We hope to continue to raise awareness about autism professionally as well as socially in the surrounding communities, and hope to keep hosting these great events to raise the much-needed funds to keep this program running and helping empower adults with autism.”

Gavin’s Gang Walks for Resources and Awareness

 

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Gavin Beale didn’t say his first word and screamed in frustration until after his third birthday. From the time he was about 10 months old, his parents, Jenny and Jason Beale of Greensboro, were very concerned about him.

“It was a very dark time because we didn’t know what was going on with him,” said his mother, Jenny. “I knew in my heart of hearts that something wasn’t quite right.”

GavinGavin didn’t enjoy books or do many of the things his older brother, Owen, had done at the same age. When he was 2, the family was told that he might have autism, but he was not diagnosed until later, when he had some language and was fully assessed by Guilford County staff. In the meantime, he had rigorous speech therapy and special education teachers who came to his preschool almost every day to work with him.

Beale said the family had not been public about what they were going through with Gavin during his first couple of years. Once they got the diagnosis in spring 2014, she was ready to share their story. They formed a team for the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism, the Autism Society of North Carolina’s annual fundraiser. She sent an email out about Gavin with a link to the page for their team, Gavin’s Gang.

The family was overwhelmed by the support of their friends, family, and community, including their home church, Guilford Park Presbyterian. “It’s a testament to Gavin, really. He’s a bright light,” she said. “It’s just a testament to how much people love him.”

In the team’s first year, the family raised almost $3,000 and in the second, their total was $3,075! The team was among the top three fundraisers for the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism. “When we formed the team, I didn’t really expect that,” Beale said. “The power of social media is amazing!

“The nice thing about the race is that family and friends don’t have to live in Greensboro to support it,” said Beale, adding that they usually have 15-20 people who do the Run/Walk with them, but many more support the team with donations.

Now Gavin is almost 6, and “he has really blossomed,” Beale said. He has a wonderful sense of humor and is very expressive through art and music. He loves going to school but does need help with transitions and social situations. “I love how he thinks of things outside the box,” his mother said. “His perspective is so different. It’s just amazing the way his brain works.”

Gavin plays with LEGOs for hours. “We always say that he’s going to be an engineer,” Beale said. “He’s definitely a builder.”

Beale said they feel fortunate that Gavin is doing so well and want to help other families who might not know about resources that are available from the Autism Society of North Carolina, which improves the lives of individuals with autism, supports their families, and educates communities. “I just know that there are so many people that aren’t as lucky as we are. It feels good to do something.”

She also hopes that their efforts help support autism awareness in the community. Many people tell her that Gavin “doesn’t look like he has autism” or exhibit what they consider to be the usual characteristics. These misconceptions mean they may not understand what his true challenges are, she said, bringing up her concerns about how he will do with social situations in kindergarten this fall.

But one day she is not worried about is Sept. 24, when her family will be out at UNC-Greensboro for the Run/Walk for Autism. She knows that her family will be among a community of people who care and understand that day. “All these folks are experiencing on some level what we are going through.”

 

Step out to improve lives in the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism on Saturday, Sept. 24! The event at UNC-Greensboro will include a 5K race and a recreational 1K run/walk. Celebrate autism awareness and acceptance with music, refreshments, and vendor space that will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: www.greensbororunwalkforautism.com

 

 

WNC Run/Walk for Autism Inspires Pride

 

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Jesse Trimbach and his father, Joe, at the WNC Run/Walk for Autism

Jesse Trimbach is 28 and lives in his own apartment in Asheville. He uses public transportation to get to the Habitat for Humanity office, where he volunteers doing data entry. He takes pride in making his own meals and in being independent.

Jesse was diagnosed with autism at 2½ years old. He was in mainstream classes through his school years, with some supports, and has taken some courses at a technical college. He has worked at a library and at a funeral home doing data entry, and he is interested in computers and politics.

His mother, Kathy, said, “Jesse has accomplished a tremendous amount, and we are very proud of him.”

“Jesse is able to live on his own with support from the Autism Society of North Carolina,” Kathy said. A community skills instructor assists Jesse with organization, conversation and social skills, cooking, and safety issues.

Jesse’s parents recently traveled to Europe, and they knew he would be fine while they were gone both because of Jesse’s ability to live independently and because of the services from the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC).

“Their staff is trained in autism, since it is their primary focus,” she said. “And it’s a collaborative effort between parents and the workers. I feel like I can talk with them about anything.”

The family’s experience with ASNC has inspired them to participate in the WNC Run/Walk for Autism, ASNC’s fundraiser held each September at UNC-Asheville. They have attended every year since moving to Asheville from Seattle about six years ago, and they have raised money as part of Team Trimbach.

“It’s becoming more and more important to get out and raise money,” Kathy said. “Families need services.”

Jesse said, “It’s important to help raise money for people on the spectrum, so they can receive more services and benefits. I feel proud of joining the Run/Walk.”

Besides supporting the cause, the family enjoys the event. Jesse has fun seeing people he knows from ASNC as well as participants from other years. “It’s a real joyous sense of community. He loves it!” Kathy said.

Educating the community about autism is another important part of ASNC’s eight Run/Walks for Autism across the state. ASNC believes that individuals with autism deserve meaningful lives as contributing members of the communities in which they live. People with autism have much to teach us, and they have unique gifts that can make our communities a better place to live for all of us.

Kathy and Jesse have done their part in raising autism awareness. When they lived in Seattle, Jesse’s middle-school psychologist taught a course on inclusion for regular education teachers at Western Washington University. Kathy and Jesse did a series of presentations each semester on supporting students with autism through the years. “Jesse really enjoyed doing these presentations and was very articulate in his speaking and in answering questions,” his mom said.

“Individuals with autism also make great employees,” Kathy said, “and employers should consider hiring more of them. “

Jesse, who hopes to find employment again soon, says that he appreciates it when people have high expectations of him. Parents of young children with autism should “teach them how to be more independent as they get older,” he said.

Thanks to Jesse, his family, and hundreds of others participating in the WNC Run/Walk for Autism, ASNC will be there for parents as they do just that.

 

Step out to improve lives in the 11th annual WNC Run/Walk for Autism at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11! The event at UNC-Asheville will include a 5K race, a recreational 1K run/walk, activities for children, music, and refreshments. Vendor space will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: http://www.wncrunwalkforautism.com

 

Putting the “Fun” in Fundraiser

 

It’s the middle of summer, and you have a bit of breathing room before the crazy round of activities cranks up again. Why not have a little fun and raise some money for people with autism and their loved ones at the same time?

We’ve got some ideas to get you started:

 

People love to eat!

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Neighborhood cook-off: You know that neighbor who always says he makes the best ribs? What about the one who brags about his secret sauce? Let them show off their skills! Pull those grills into the middle of the cul-de-sac and fire up everyone’s competitive spirit. Put out cans and have people taste and vote for their favorite by donating to the corresponding can. Winner of the cook-off is the one with the most donations. You’re the real champion for helping people with autism!

Progressive dinner: We love having people over for dinner, but it’s daunting to think of making all the food yourself. With a progressive dinner, you and several neighbors can each make and serve one course. Easy as pie! At the end of the night, each family can donate to ASNC the amount they would have spent on such a lovely evening at a restaurant.

Pie-eating contest: Speaking of pie, there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who would love an excuse to eat a ton of pie, and those who would love to watch and laugh. Bring them all together with a pie-eating contest. You could charge admission or just ask for donations. You could sell extra pies to be eaten in the privacy of spectators’ own homes. Everyone loves pie!

 

Sell, sell, sell

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Lemonade stand, bake sale, Krispy Kreme sale: Did we mention people love to eat? Find a high traffic spot to set up your stand on a Saturday morning, and get some cute kids to make the pitch with you. Tell passers-by you’re improving the lives of people with autism here in NC, and they’ll be thrilled at the excuse to indulge their sweet tooth.

Community yard sale: You have too much stuff. Your kids have too much stuff. Your neighbors have too much stuff. Why not schedule a neighborhood yard sale – or one at your school or place of worship – and donate the proceeds to ASNC? You’ll get rid of stuff and help a good cause at the same time. Win-win!

 

We know it’s hot, but get outside

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Pool party: It’s been a month since graduations, and a few weeks since the Fourth of July. People are ready for another party! Check whether you can schedule one in your neighborhood pool or another local pool. You may not be able to charge admission, but popsicles and other cool treats are sure to sell quickly. You can also offer other fun activities for the kids, like face-painting, in exchange for donations.

Scavenger hunt: People of all ages can get into a scavenger hunt. Make it a family event and look for safe locations, such as open parks away from traffic. Type up a list of clues, pick up a few small prizes and some bottled water, and you will have created a unique day of fun for teams of families. They’ll be so grateful at getting their kids outside for some activity, that they just might donate a portion of what they would have spent at a local venue!

Kiddie carnival: Bring in the clowns! Bring in the water balloons to toss, beanbags to throw, and cans to knock over! Add some refreshments, a magician, and some face-painting, and you’ve got a full-blown carnival for the wee ones. Charge one price for admission or sell tickets to activities – either way, it’s way cheaper than Disney.

 

Team up with local businesses

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Awareness night: Local businesses love to give back to their communities. Do you have a restaurant you go to every Friday night? Or an ice cream store nearby that the kids all love? Talk to them about holding an autism awareness night. You spread the word to bring in people, and they donate a portion of proceeds to improve lives and support families. We’d be happy to help you get the word out!

Donation cans: Never underestimate the impact of the can on the counter. Get your kids to decorate a bunch of them – be sure to include a message about helping people with autism – and ask businesses to set them out. Keep in mind, this does require follow-up to go back and collect the proceeds.

 

In it to win it

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Volleyball, kickball, or cornhole: Team tournaments are great for weekend warriors – not too much skill required, and little risk of injury. You could charge admission for teams, sell refreshments, even put out cans so spectators can vote for the team they think will win by donating. Get local businesses to serve as sponsors and provide refreshments to sell, and you’ll be able to donate even more!

Golf tournament: This would be a little more involved and require some coordinating with a local facility, but if you are already part of a tournament, why not see whether it can benefit the Autism Society of North Carolina? Or you can come to our annual tournament for Camp Royall, held each year at The Preserve at Jordan Lake in Chapel Hill. Ask us if you’d like more info.

 

Working for the giving

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Parents’ night out: Here’s a perfect idea for your teenager’s sports team or youth group! They find a kid-friendly location such as a local church, pick a date, and advertise that they are offering three hours of drop-off fun for kids of a certain age. Parents will be happy to have the time alone, the cared-for children will have a ball, and the teenagers will, too, because they’ll be with friends.

Car wash: We don’t think we need to explain this one. Or are you one of those people who washes their car every Saturday morning?

 

Any of these ideas catch your fancy? Contact Kristy White at kwhite@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-865-5086 to talk it over. ASNC would love your support!

Big Sister Takes Lessons to Heart

Sydney and Charlie Ramey

 

Sydney Ramey has learned many things from her younger brother, Charlie, like how to be patient and responsible. Sydney is 17 and Charlie, who has autism, is 14.

Sydney says she also has learned from Charlie that “sometimes it’s best just to throw away your cares and laugh till it hurts.”

That’s not all she’s throwing because of her brother’s inspiration. Sydney is a rising senior at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, where she is the pitcher on the softball team. This spring, she created a fundraiser called Strikeout Autism, in which she sought pledges for each strike she threw. She ended the season with 764 strikes and 43 strikeouts and raised $2,082.40, which she donated to the Autism Society of North Carolina and Charlie’s school, Just Right Academy.

Sydney’s family has a history of supporting ASNC. In 2009, they helped organize a fundraiser with the Carolina Mudcats baseball team in Zebulon, which raised more than $4,000. Their company, Creative Business Interiors Inc., has also served as sponsors for the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism and provided thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture for ASNC’s offices.

“It was important for me to help the ASNC and my brother’s school, because I’ve seen them both touch lives. From early on in my life, I’ve heard and seen what ASNC does for autistic people and their families and I wanted to be a part of that,” Sydney said. Just Right Academy has “an exceptional staff and bright, wonderful students. It makes me glad to hear what my brother and his friends conquer each day when they go to school.”

“I’ve learned so much just by watching him grow and experience the world,” Sydney said. “Autistic people don’t have to be coddled because what they do and accomplish every day makes them stronger than most people. They deserve our respect and to be treated like everyone else.”

In many ways, Charlie is just like everyone else, Sydney said.

“Like any little brother, he likes to play tricks on me. When we go to the beach, he walks around the pool with his water gun and squirts people (mainly my dad and I). Charlie also loves the water, so we spend a lot of time at the lake, where we swim, ride on the boat, and go tubing.”

Charlie is also very creative and enjoys drawing and creating videos on his iPad, Sydney said. “Charlie has a very infectious sense of humor, so we spend a lot of time watching funny videos and joking around.”

Being Charlie’s sister has influenced Sydney in a positive way.

“Because of my brother, I enjoy volunteering at places like The Autism Society, Just Right Academy, and Special Olympics,” Sydney said. “I like to think that by having Charlie as my brother, I have become a better, stronger person. For this I am truly blessed.”

ASNC is honored to be the recipient of Sydney’s generosity and creativity! If you would like to learn more about how to create your own fundraiser for ASNC, click here.

 

AmeriCarna LIVE Volunteer Uses Passion to Give Back

Larry Grossflam

Larry Grossflam, at left, with Ray Evernham, on right.

The Autism Society of North Carolina relies on volunteers to help carry out our mission. In honor of Volunteer Week, we share a story about one valued volunteer.

When Larry Grossflam moved to North Carolina from New York in the fall of 2014, he began looking for volunteer opportunities. Through his employer, United Health Group, he learned about the AmeriCarna LIVE car show held by former NASCAR champion crew chief Ray Evernham to benefit the IGNITE community center for young adults with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

AmeriCarna LIVE is a takeoff on Evernham’s television show on Velocity, “AmeriCarna,” which takes viewers back in time and introduces them to car history.

“Having been a longtime follower and admirer of Ray Evernham’s career, a big fan of AmeriCarna on Velocity and being somewhat car-crazy myself, I thought this opportunity would be a perfect fit for me,” Grossflam said. “I instantly felt like part of the team and knew my assistance and experience was appreciated and respected.”

Grossflam has given AmeriCarna LIVE a huge boost each year. He attends other car shows in the area and hands out cards about AmeriCarna LIVE, which is held each November in Davidson, NC, and draws thousands of car enthusiasts. Grossflam also posts about the event on community calendars and the Facebook pages of car clubs. Once car owners have registered, he works with them, and he helps set up at the Moonshiners Ball, which is held the night before, and the car show.

“Larry Grossflam defines what it means to serve the community and give back,” said Det Cullum, AmeriCarna LIVE event coordinator. “His passion for cars and helping others has played an integral role in making AmeriCarna LIVE such a successful event, and we know he will continue to do everything in his power to help us make it better each year.”

Grossflam also has taken the time to learn about IGNITE so he can educate the public about the community center. IGNITE, which was founded with support from the Evernham Family-Racing for a Reason Foundation, offers activities, skills training, and educational workshops that foster social, financial, educational, and employment independence for its members.

“People should know that individuals with autism have skills, reach goals, and function in their communities like everyone else, but they need the right support to help them,” Grossflam said. “When I was given a tour of IGNITE’s facility and saw how the program was organized, what it did, and how they helped, I knew this was a great environment for young adults to receive that needed support.

“People should know that a program like this exists.”

Grossflam said he looks forward to continuing to volunteer for IGNITE and the Autism Society of North Carolina, and he encourages others to do the same.

“If you can use your experience and life’s work to help others or to just get involved in something you have passion for, it will pay you back with pride and an amazing feeling of empowerment and ‘doing good,’” he said. “You will also meet some great people, make new friends and set an example for others to follow. ASNC and the IGNITE program are a great place to start. You won’t meet better people.

“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”

To learn more about “AmeriCarna” and AmeriCarna LIVE, click here.