By Patty Fantasia
Photo credit: Patty Fantasia

The Grant A Gift for Autism Foundation hosted its second annual Fashion for Autism event on Wednesday, October 12 at the Emerald at Queensbridge.  Starting off with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres amid the beautiful landscaped grounds attendees were able to socialize while viewing and bidding on items in the silent auction.  Dinner was served afterwards as single mom Lynda Tache, the Executive Director of the Grant A Gift for Autism Foundation spoke about the progress her organization has been making in helping families with autistic children receive medical and educational assistance from the funds raised at events like this.  One of the enthusiastic supporters on hand was Chris Bailey, whose family was the first to benefit when the charity began by receiving the funds for a medical diagnosis for her son Steven.  Chris said, “It’s an amazing awesome organization.  Linda works tirelessly and puts her heart and soul into this.  It’s night and day, 24 hours.  Looking around at some of the guests busily bidding on the various items Chris added, “This is the big one for us.”

Thanks to the Grant A Gift Foundation Las Vegas has been making strides in aiding local families.  For example, there is now a model classroom for autistic children serving as an example for all others in the district.  Students are in these rooms for two years until they reach the first grade.  As part of the program Kris’s son Steven and Lynda’s son Grant, who are both 10, are used to teach other teachers ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis. They have different personalities with Steven being the quiet type while Grant is outgoing with a huge personality demonstrating their uniqueness and individuality.

Grant was six years old when he was diagnosed with autism and Lynda quickly realized that she was going to need the support of friends and family with medical expenses and education if he was going to be able to reach his full potential.  She also recognized that with so many other children out there facing the same challenges help was going to be needed in order to have more youngsters assessed.

More than 6,000 children in Nevada are autistic.   It is hereditary and one in 70 boys and one in 110 children are diagnosed.  It is estimated that 90% of the children who don’t receive early treatment will need custodial care.  A proper medical diagnosis can cost $1,000, while $750 can fund a social and life skill treatment and $100 pay for a speech therapy session.  However, as proven by Apple Computer’s touch screen, technology has been making in roads in assisting autistic children reach out and communicate, so hopefully there will be more industry leaders like Steve Jobs who will recognize the importance of giving back with other inventions like the iPad.  In the meantime there are people like staunch supporter Kenny Lee whose family owns Lees Liquors and Eric Lovaas, son of Ivar Lovaas the founder of Applied Behavior Analysis who passed away last year, attending events like this one.  There are also donors and bidders who participated and contributed in the live auction which included items such as: A Jennifer Main Custom Autism Art Piece, an Exotics Racing Ultimate Driving Experience Performance Package, California Dreamin VIP wine tour, a Royal Caribbean Cruise, Field of Dreams Reproduction from the Jeff Mitchum Gallery and Ultimate Fighting Championship VIP Pay Per View Event Package at Mandalay Bay.

Emmy award-winning journalist Jessica Moore and former News 3 anchor Jim Snyder hosted the event while Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval received the Ambassador for Autism Award and Senator Sheila Leslie, Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, April Mastroluca and Melissa Woodbury received bouquets of yellow roses commemorating their awards as autism advocates.  The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Company was named Community Partner of the Year while Kiwanis of Neon Lights was saluted as the Volunteer Partner of the Year.  Following the awards ceremony was the fashion show with clothes provided by Tommy Bahama with jewelry from lia sophia.

Perhaps the most touching part of the evening was when Lynda welcomed her son Grant, and others including Luke Cecman, Mattison Elle Wendal, Megan Rose Crandy and Andrew Ackerman, who are all autistic, to the stage and the group shared their thoughts, hopes and dreams with guests.  Because of the support they’ve received from family, friends and the community they are living productive lives.  Luke has been on the honor roll 3 times while at 27 Andy now works in his father’s warehouse and high school senior Megan recently went to Europe with her friends and wants to continue on to college to earn her degree and work with autistic children.  Then there’s Grant who Lynda referred to as “my future Steven Spielberg”.  These young people represent the future and what autistic children are capable of when they have the chance to receive proper treatment, which is an opportunity that every child truly deserves.


Jewelry from Lia Sophia

The names of the Grant A Gift Award Recipients

Autism Advocates were gifted with yellow rose bouquets

Lynda Tache, the Executive Director of the Grant A Gift Foundation


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