Light It Up Blue to support those in need, autism charities
Portsmouth Herald - 3/28/2018
YORK - Organizers of the fifth annual Light It Up Blue event at the York Harbor Inn are planning to give back to the local community through this year's event.
Greg and Christa Silva of York, whose seven-year-old son Jackson has severe autism, have created Jackson's Pals Wish List. The Silvas are asking community members who know a special needs child to email them any need that child may have.
"As ASD parents ourselves, we know that some of the essential needs that our children have can add up. The benefits of a weighted blanket can mean whether or not your precious child (and you) can get a good night's sleep. A compression shirt worn to school can help with focus and behaviors throughout the school day. A chewy/teether or a fidget can help with the same. Having access to an iPad at home can be a huge motivator when learning a new task," the Silvas said. "The list of helpful therapeutic household needs is vast."
The Light It Up Blue event at the York Harbor Inn will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 11. There will be a DJ with dancing, a photo booth, food, raffles, and a silent auction. There is a suggested donation of $10 per person or $25 per family.
Light It Up Blue is a global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness of autism and those it affects. The event at the York Harbor Inn, over its four years, has raised more than $40,000 for various autism charities supporting children and families in Maine. This year's event will benefit Jackson's Pals Wish List, Waban, and the Autism Society of Maine.
Last year, Jackson's Totally Awesome Comedy Show helped raise funds for an autism service dog for Jackson. The Silvas said the extra companionship, protection and safety of an autism service dog will be priceless for their family.
Christa Silva said the dog will be specifically trained for Jackson and they expect Jackson and his pal will be together this August.
The community's support through the comedy show inspired the Silvas to want to give back through the Light It Up Blue event, Christa Silva said.
"It's such a great, giving community and we were so humbled by how people reached out and came to help us raise money for Jackson's autism therapy dog and we just want to keep giving back in that circle of the community all being involved," she said.
Christa Silva said her son wears compression t-shirts under his clothes that help with stress and anxiety throughout the day. The t-shirts are $20 each, she said. Both Jackson and his brother also sleep with weighted blankets, she said, and those can cost from $150 to $300.
"And those weighted blankets can be the deciding factor of whether or not they get a good night's sleep or we get a good night's sleep. That's priceless for that parent and that child," she said.
Asking those in need to reach out, she said, "We want to get to know you. We want to hear about things that you're looking for and we want to ease a little bit of that burden."
If you or someone you know have a special needs child that is in need of a helpful therapeutic item - such as a weighted blanket or a compression shirt - email firstname.lastname@example.org.