April is Time to “Strike Out Autism”
“Ausome” Events Honor Families Living With Autism
By Melanie Saxton
Each April, fans converge on Constellation Field for the “grand slam” event of the year — Strike Out Autism. The day has become a favorite outing for children with autism, thanks to a community partnership. Hope For Three, the Sugar Land Skeeters, Honorable Judge Hebert, Fort Bend City Mayors and 300 volunteers work untold hours on Family Fun Day to bring sunshine and smiles to more than 100 Fort Bend families living with children on the autism spectrum. This year’s event will be held Sunday, April 26.
Excitement for All
Registration is required for Strike Out Autism, with a deadline to register of Monday, April 20. The event is free for Fort Bend families living with autism. They can pre-register to attend exclusive activities from 12 – 2 p.m. on April 26 and then stay to watch the ballgame, which starts at 2 p.m. From the pre-game meet-and-greet to the autograph session, kids are thrilled to meet the Skeeters baseball players. Romping on the baseball field and “pairing up” with a buddy keeps the youngsters busy while Mom and Dad can mingle with other parents at the Bud Light Pavilion.
Everyone enjoys the game day jersey auction, and this year a special silent auction features the artwork of Grant Manier, one of the most intriguing and captivating young eco-impressionist artists today living with autism who has been capturing national media attention. Grant has been honored with awards for his Eco-impressionism and outstanding contribution to the autism community.
The Skeeters’ baseball game on Sunday will continue their Opening Weekend battle against the Lancaster Barnstormers. The Skeeters were narrowly defeated by the Barnstormers in Game 3 of the 2014 Atlantic League Championship Series in a nail-biting, 13-inning game.
Overall, families enjoy the opportunity to forge friendships and meet others who walk in their shoes. Many experience laughter and acceptance on this fun-filled day.
A Reason to Hope
This is the third year Hope For Three has coordinated Strike Out Autism. Its debut in 2013 was the largest community awareness event in Fort Bend County history. Supporters stepped up last year to host another successful Opening Weekend and look forward to the same this year.
Hope For Three is a nonprofit established in 2011 to create awareness through outreach, education and events. It also provides resources and support exclusively to families with children on the autism spectrum. The community rallies behind Hope for Three for a variety of reasons – some quite personal. Over 2,200 children diagnosed on the autism spectrum are enrolled in Fort Bend County public schools. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States affecting one in 50 school-age children. A child is diagnosed every 11 minutes.
Awareness is key and assistance is vital. Hope For Three helps families with children who might otherwise go without life-changing treatments or therapies due to the high cost or lack of coverage, or simply not knowing how to obtain access to services.
More April Events
Along with Strike Out Autism, Hope For Three has a full schedule throughout the month. The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day falls on April 7 and will be celebrated with a Dine Out Loud for Autism event at BurgerFi. On April 11, Hope For Three will be The Fort Bend Junior Service League event beneficiary of the 2015 Spring Fling. On April 19 the League will host its Annual Car Wash at C&C Dental from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
In the News
Darla Farmer has been the inspiration behind Hope For Three since its inception. She stepped down as president in December but remains on the board – and happily announced that the organization has expanded to four full-time and two part- time employees. The George Foundation recently made possible a move to a “forever home,” which the Hope For Three staff is still filling with office supplies, kitchen supplies and furniture. Donations are welcomed, and tax receipts are provided.
In February, the organization welcomed Dr. Temple Grandin at Sugar Land Baptist Church. As a lead-in, in January they hosted a free screening at the Santikos Palladium of the HBO film, Dr. Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes. Certainly, Grandin is a “celebrity” in the autism community and she makes the case that, “The world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.” ➝
Hope For Three is highly active in the community throughout the year. From Casino Nights to Sibling Sessions and Parents Time Out programs, Farmer praises the passionate people who step up to serve. Many events involve Teen Huddle members and trained adult volunteers from Sugar Land Family Church.
If you want to become involved or need assistance, please call 281-245-0640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Strike Out Autism, visit hopeforthree.org/ strike-out-autism-2015 or their Facebook page, or call 281-245-0640. To purchase tickets for Strike Out Autism or to support Hope For Three, visit hopeforthree.org.