The inspiring 5-Star event, included a VIP Awards Reception, silent and live auctions, sit down dinner, awards from dignitaries, and much more at the Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland, PA.
What made this such a magical event was the heart-felt message of love and acceptance for children and adults with autism, and other special needs, and their family members, that was spread by everyone who came out to support the non-profit Autism Cares Foundation.
The Spring Gala & Auction took place on Saturday, April 22, and this marks an important time in the evolution of the Autism Cares Foundation, which has provided more than 1,000 free events, social programs, and life enrichment opportunities for individuals with autism, and their family members, during the past eight years.
“Each of you and the organization has touched many lives – bringing opportunity, progress and hope to children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families,” said Co-Founder and President Frank Kuepper. “The smiles go on for miles, which is something you have made possible.”
He recognized the dignitaries who came out to support the Foundation: Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, State Rep. Scott Petri, former State Rep. Denny O’Brien and Nina Wall Cote, the director of the Bureau of Autism Services for the state of Pennsylvania.
Frank and Linda Kuepper thanked the sponsors, donors, board of directors, staff, and numerous volunteers, “whom we count on every day to bring their warmth and miles of smiles to our many special friends.”
Congressman Fitzpatrick presented Linda and Frank Kuepper with an official certificate from “The United States House of Representatives [that] proudly recognizes Autism Cares Foundation for their devoted service to our community.”
State Rep Petri, on behalf of State Senator Robert Tomlinson, presented Bob and JoAnn Huth with an official proclamation for their extensive charitable efforts, including their work with Autism Cares Foundation. Both couples said that they were humbled by the recognition.
The Emcee for the glamorous Spring Gala was Jim Donovan, co-anchor and multiple Emmy-Award-winning consumer reporter and anchor for CBS3 Eyewitness News, who has been helping Autism Cares Foundation to spread its message for several years.
“I have witnessed the tremendous growth in the past year by offering 200 free events and activities for individuals with autism,” Donovan said. “There is no other organization in the state, or even the country, that runs an activity calendar like the Autism Cares Foundation.”
Linda Kuepper, Autism Cares Foundation Co-Founder and CEO, spoke about the upcoming “Under the Sea Prom,” taking place at Council Rock High School South on Friday, May 19.
“This prom is really special. They have a scrumptious catered buffet dinner, a DJ playing music, and have their photos taken that they can take home. It is a prom just like their peers – in a safe and welcoming environment,” said Linda Kuepper.
Another major accomplishment of the Autism Cares Foundation was the starting of the Adult Service Division in July 2016, led by the program CEO Beth Garrison. The program focuses on Adult Day Habilitation services, home and community services and vocational services for those age 21 and over. This program has become so successful, so quickly, that they are already nearing capacity in the current Southampton location, and a second location will need to be developed in the near future.
Each year, Autism Cares Foundation honors an individual who has made a significant difference in the Special Needs Community. At the 8th Annual Gala, the Foundation honored Bob and JoAnn Huth with the 2017 Cares Award.
The Huths were presented with a unique painting created by Mitchell Bowyer, an adult with autism who has graciously created these awards for the last three years. No two awards are ever the same, and Bowyer is inspired by learning the background of each person winning the award.
Their early assistance gave Linda and Frank Kuepper the confidence to persevere when times were difficult. They could see the need and the benefit the Autism Cares Foundation could bring to the children and adults with autism, and the greater community.
While acknowledging that the Autism Cares Foundation has “accomplished a great deal in a short time,” Frank Kuepper said, “the journey has much further to go, and we have much more to accomplish.”
The next step, Frank Kuepper said, is to develop chapters throughout the area, and throughout the country, “bringing our formula for success, opportunity, and hope and to develop our inclusion community to answer the need for continued life skills development, job development and training, and life-long care, that so many of us parents continue to stress over.”
“I ask you to look beyond the immediacy and to think about legacy,” he urged. “You can make a difference that lasts beyond today, beyond tomorrow, and beyond yourself.”
Debra Wallace Forman, Director of Communications