Tonight I forgot my video camera. I thought, well, since this is an event that I am invited to...I will just attend and enjoy it and relax...not work. But as the evening went on, I realized that this was the most important event I could have possibly brought my camera to and I was kicking myself for not documenting it. So I will do it now as best as I can with my words.
The event was the CARD (Center For Autism and Related Disabilities) reception at Sweetwater Inn Bed and Breakfast. It was an event to thank donors and people who are close with the organization. When I got there it was wonderful to see so many faces from over the past few years. Greg Valcante greeted me at the door. He is the director at CARD and one of the first people in Gainesville who helped me when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Autism. I saw old friends, Caroline and Steve (Satchel) Raye of Satchel's Pizza who have donated generously to the organization. And Andrea Holbrook of Holbrook Travel, who has gone through this endeavor with me. She has also donated generously to CARD, along with her sister, Camilla Holbrook, who hosted the reception at her Bed and Breakfast.
The reception room was beautiful, decorated in warm, Fall colors. And the food for the event was incredible. There was a station for meat lovers...beef with steak sauce and scrumptious horseradish sauce. Then there were chicken enchilada's with fresh salsa on the side. There was warm artichoke spinach dip in a large heated silver serving dish along with fresh white and wheat sliced baguettes. At the veggie table were scrumptious crunchy spring rolls with sauce and roasted eggplant arranged so prettily that it was a shame to disturb the symmetry to taste it...but worth it.
I have to say that the highlight of the evening was when the mother of a child with autism got up and spoke about her journey with raising a son on the spectrum. As I heard her speak it was like she was telling my story and there was not a dry eye in the room when she was finished. She ended by saying that her son, like my daughter, is now not only speaking, but a chatterbox and he is doing really well in a "typical" kindergarten class...constantly overcoming difficulties and far surpassing expectations. Our children are brilliant little people, who happen to have autism in the way.
CARD thanked everyone who had helped over the years with the activities and events to raise money and awareness. CARD is anticipating a $42,000 cut in funding and so the focus on the evening was how to keep everything going even with the terrible budget cuts.
The answer for now is more volunteers and people who can give a little bit of time. Contact CARD to see what you can do to help. My follow up blog will include information on how to help...and volunteer information.
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