Do you recognize my friend, Jake? I posted about him in a previous blog. He is just the best.
I met Jake, and several other wonderful kids and parents through KMOV's partnership with Autism Speaks. Jake was part of a commercial about the Autism Speaks Walk that aired in the weeks leading up to the event. I got to see him again the day of the walk. I could tell he'd been watching channel 4 to see his commercials because he even said, "KMOV always watches out for us!" Yes we do, Jake, :-)
The weather really worked out for us! Thousands of people gathered in the Muny parking lot in Forest Park, and I was blown away but what a party it was. So much fun, along with food, resources and fellowship. We started the event with a moment of silence, because it was the Saturday after Ofc. Blake Snyder was killed in the line of duty. As I looked out into the crowd, and noticed the firefighters and police officers there to support the cause, it was so hard not to get emotional. What a special city we live in.
This community, I've learned, is also very special. That's an understatement when I think about the force of nature that these families have become. Autism Speaks is a great organization, and it's the moms and dads behind it that really make it so strong. I was intimidated at first, because I don't have a lot of experience with autism. I've since learned it comes in many forms, but I don't have any close friends or family members on the spectrum, so I wasn't that familiar. I am by no means an expert after doing a handful of stories on the subject, but I certainly have a much deeper appreciation for the world of autism.
Tribe is a trendy word these days. It's thrown around to describe friendships and cliques and like-minded people. This group truly embodies that spirit. Seeing dads of kids with autism tear up as they speak about their child's unique gifts, and the support they've gotten from the community is so impactful. They know exactly how they got through the challenges that come with autism, and their gratitude runs deep. There is a strong connection running through these families and I am so glad I got to see it in action.
I did five stories total for our series with Autism Speaks. You can find more detailed information on them here, on the kmov.com website. I'm also including one of them below. It really stuck out to me, because I just loved the three cousins whose story we got to tell. Anytime a family opens their home to a camera crew and a strange reporter, I know it comes with a certain degree of vulnerability and trust. I imagine that feeling is magnified for folks who know what it's like to have a loved one be misunderstood. I always try to respect that relationship, and do their stories justice.
There are many more stories from this community that are worthy of being told. I hope we helped spread the word about something that affects SO many families in St. Louis and beyond. Thanks to Autism Speaks, for taking a chance on KMOV, and allowing me to be a small part of it.
That's a wrap on Autism Speaks, but I hope not forever!
Thanks for reading,