photos by jen harem
i have to admit that i was nervous to contact chelsea at first (her husband is david's boss...eek!) i found her blog through this video and was touched by it. autism has a special place in my heart and i admire chelsea for going above and beyond the call of duty, so to say. people like her inspire me because she doesn't have to spend her time and money and efforts raising autism awareness; but she chooses to. and that is inspiring to me.
"I was driving home one day after a particular therapy session for Cali at Autism Journeys. As I was driving, my mind was reflecting on how amazing she was doing and how far she had come. Cali is and has been fortunate enough to receive loads of early intervention therapies that have proven to mold and shape her brain to function at it's highest potential. You hear time and time again that early intervention is key. That involving your son or daughter in these therapies early on will help them succeed, learn, and grow. For us, there was no other option than to live a life of autism therapy. Day in, day out. That was our new plan, our new life.
On this particular drive, my mind also started to think of the innumerable amount of kids who may be autistic or have other developmental delays, and are not financially able to receive early intervention. My eyes started welling up with tears as I thought about these kids. To know that each of them could benefit, could grow, learn, and succeed in at least some degree, but are stopped because they financially can't afford the therapy, made my heart shrink to nothing. It's just not fair.
That day in the car was the day I decided we would help someway, somehow.
Now fast forward to another day when I was talking over the phone to my older sister Brittany who lives in Houston, Texas. I was relaying my feelings to her. Telling her how bad my heart aches over the thought of knowing so many kids go without therapy. She immediately brought up the idea of holding a gala in Autism Journey's honor. She didn't even hesitate with this idea. She mentioned it as if to say duh!! My mind instantly clung to this gala and that was that. Cali's Charitable Hearts was the name we would give to the gala and I was certain it would be a huge success!
And it was!
About 150 of our close friends and work associates came to attend the first annual Cali's Charitable Hearts. It was a night to be remembered! We ate. We mingled. We shared stories. And we raised money!!!! Just over $100k! Even now as I type out the amount, my heart grows and eyes tear up.
As I mentioned, this gala was to help benefit the non-profit organization, Autism Journey's. The idea was to support them with the funds to be able to offer their services at a discounted price for families waiting in the wings for just this very thing. Therapy is so extremely expensive, so even a whopping $100k doesn't even make a dent for helping numerous families receive the therapy they need. A years worth of constant therapy can run anywhere from $40-60k. Obviously the money raised would be spread very thin to help support as many families as possible.
Since receiving the diagnosis three years ago, my life has become surrounded by autism. For one, I live with an autistic child, and two, I choose to blog about autism, read on autism, and attend autism conferences. I guess you can say it's becoming a passion of mine to support and raise awareness for autism. My hope is to one day make Cali's Charitable Hearts grow to become something huge. Something in which can help raise much more than $100k...much, much more!!!"
follow chelsea's blog here.