Spring Break for Autism benefits organizations serving those on the spectrum
Times-Tribune - 3/26/2017
March 26--DUNMORE -- Rolls of raffle tickets unravelled as people poured through the doors of a borough banquet hall Saturday for a benefit catering to those on the autism spectrum.
The annual Spring Break for Autism fundraiser, now in its 12th year, returned to La Buona Vita in Dunmore in an effort to raise money for area organizations that provide programs for children and teens with autism. This year, the event -- featuring food, drinks, raffles and a silent auction -- benefited the Greater Carbondale YMCA and the Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
"Because of this support, when the kids want something now, I don't have to think twice," said Carbondale YMCA Executive Director Steve Durkin, whose organization runs a weekly program that provides activities and invaluable socialization for teens with autism. "We might go to a ballgame, or we might go to a park, or they might want Chinese food. ... I don't hesitate."
As the parent of an adult daughter on the autism spectrum, longtime event organizer Peter Cosgrove understands how important these programs are. In taking children with autism to a movie or bowling or dancing, for example, the programs supported by the fundraiser allow "kids to have more fun," he said.
"These are all wonderful things for these kids," said Cosgrove. "This is their way of getting to do those things."
As a goal, Cosgrove said, he hoped Spring Break for Autism would raise $10,000 for each organization.
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-17, Moosic, serving as honorary chairman of the event this year, told guests "not to lose too much sleep" over President Donald Trump's proposed budget. The budget includes funding cuts for the National Institute of Health and National Institute for Mental Health, which perform autism research.
"Cutting funding for NIH and NIMH makes no sense whatsoever, and the families here know that," said Cartwright, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "I will be fighting day and night to oppose those cuts, and I think a lot of Republicans will as well."
Several attendees at the benefit noted that opportunities for people on the autism spectrum have increased in recent years, and said people with autism are generally more accepted and included by their peers than in the past.
Matthew Levine, who is on the spectrum, said as much Saturday as he sipped a glass of wine.
"Exclusion is not the norm in 2017," he said.
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