1 in 88 children have Autism, but Derek Roach is one in a million!
"More than 15,000 people participated in Philadelphia on November 2nd at Citizens Bank Park in what turned out to be a beautiful fall day. CBS 3 Evening News Anchors, Chris May and Jessica Dean, emceed a great event that featured longtime Autism advocate and Philadelphia City Councilman Dennis O’Brien, Nina Wall-Cote, the Director of the Bureau of Autism Services, Miss Pennsylvania, Jessica Billings, and of course the Phillie Phanatic. Families and friends from across the Philadelphia region enjoyed a day full of moon bounces, face painting, character photos, dancing and more at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies in South Philadelphia.
To date, the event raised more than $610,000 in support of Autism Speaks’ mission to fund research, increase awareness and family services and advocate for individuals with autism and their families."
After putting on our Team Derek t-shirts, and getting our faces painted with Autism awareness puzzle pieces, we set out on a walk around Citizens Bank Park with people on the sidelines cheering us on.
Wawa was on hand to energize the crowd with coffee and doughnuts, and several news anchors were there to say a few inspirational words. Derek, the little super hero in the picture to the right, was the biggest inspiration. He has such a wonderful personality, and is wise beyond his years. Liz and Terry, Derek's parents, were taken aback by the enormity of the crowd and the number of different team t-shirts. There were hundreds of different t-shirts designed to support each team, and the love and care put into them brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
The purpose of this walk wasn't to find a cure, but to raise funds for awareness and research for this fairly new diagnosis. There shouldn't be any kind of stigma attached to Autism, and the children who are diagnosed are proof of that: amazingly intelligent and unique individuals who are unaware that they're different from anyone else.
You may continue to donate to Autism Speaks on behalf of Derek on my official donation page: Donation Page of Nicholas Emeigh for Team Derek. I know that when he's old enough, Derek will appreciate it!
Photos of Team Derek at the 2013 Philadelphia Autism Speaks Walk
CBS Philly's Coverage of the Event
Autism Speaks to Washington
The "Greatest Love of All"
Here is the full article as it appears in the New York Times,
written by MICHAEL SOKOLOVE, Published: September 13, 2013
Harry S. Truman High School, set on a slight incline, is a monument to utility, neither inviting nor forbidding. Buffered on three sides by athletic fields, the school, in Levittown, Pa., rises to just one story. Its exterior is brick — not red but a dull yellow, the color of putty. Inside the front entrance, several trophy cases filled with pictures and other mementos commemorate mostly unsuccessful athletic teams, and a big bulletin board lists the colleges where the current seniors have been admitted. An energetic janitorial staff buffs the floors each afternoon to a high gloss. The classroom clocks tell the right time.
As school was ending one afternoon, I walked through the corridors to a far corner of the building and into the classroom of Lou Volpe, the school’s drama director, who four decades ago was my English teacher. His room was furnished with old couches and living-room chairs, donated stuff that otherwise might have gone to Goodwill or landfills. The bookshelves, windowsills, radiators and all other flat surfaces were piled high with anthologies of plays, copies of scripts and videotapes of Broadway productions. Several mobiles hung down from the ceiling, some low enough that a tall person would have to duck under them. As we talked, Volpe walked a circular route around the classroom, straightening and fluffing the upholstery on the couches and chairs, a ritual he performed numerous times a day, always in a clockwise direction.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.