This past fall Cali’s treatment center Autism Journey had to shut down their facilities and go strictly to at-home therapy. Some of you may be thinking, is this a bad thing? At-home therapy is phenomenal and I love being a part of it. You can learn SO much from seeing the therapy done first hand, but having an actual facility was a great thing as well. The therapists had a common place to hold meetings, meetings where they could collaborate and discuss matters of business, clients, and so forth. It was also a place where families could come to be evaluated and receive a diagnosis. They even had an occupational therapy room filled with equipment you wouldn’t find in a home. I think at-home therapy is a must, but having a facility was also a major plus for the reasons listed and many more. When Kate, the founder of Autism Journeys came to me and told me they would be shutting their doors I was a wreck. Doing away with the building was a sad thing, but what hit me the most was realizing that doing away with the building meant they were struggling financially. Not having sufficient funds ultimately means their services are not reaching the children who so desperately need their help. Autism Journeys is a non-profit organization so raising money is a part of their business. Therapy is EXPENSIVE and at Autism Journeys they hope to raise the kind of money to allow reduced costs and scholarship money for those who are not able to afford the cost. Not having sufficient funds, meant they weren’t receiving sufficient donations, which in the end meant a long long waiting list of children just hoping to one day be able to receive therapy.
That day was a sad day for me. I drove home in tears and genuinely felt for the thousands of kids who go without treatment because the cost is too staggering. I don’t know where you gather your strength, but for me it is God. I said a silent prayer as I drove home. Not out loud, just a prayer in my heart. I asked God to help me know how to help Autism Journeys. What came was an overwhelmingly feeling of love. I knew in that silent moment in my car there is a Heavenly Father above who cares for each of his children. I felt that someday somehow we could do our small part and help Autism Journeys get back on their feet and provide for others what they have so magically and remarkably provided for Cali.
Guess what…Last night, April 13th, we held our first annual Cali’s Charitable Hearts gala to raise money for Autism Journeys. Money that would go to those waiting on this long list. We invited close to 200 of our closest friends. The final count for the night was 154 guest with about 20+ of those being Autism Journey’s staff. The night was remarkable. To see so many friends show their love and support was overwhelming to say the least. I still get choked up thinking back. You always hope the relationship with your friends is real and genuine, but last night affirmed that hope. Thank you to each of you who came. Thanks to each of you who wanted to come but were pulled else where for the night.
The night was complete with live music, dinner, speakers, a dessert bidding war, and great conversations. When the time came for the bidding war we didn’t know what to expect. We were blown away from the results. 88K!!!!! Can you believe it!! I get chills every time I say the number. And can I tell you a little story. Our table of eight was filled with two couples, a girlfriend who came solo (husband out of town), and Cali and Ava’s nanny. When the dessert bidding started Casey went around the table and asked each person what they would be willing to donate. The first couple graciously put down $100, the second did the same, and my girlfriend followed suit. The last person to speak up was Chantelle. Remember, Chantelle is our nanny, a college student, who’s financial status is what you would expect as a college student. Not to mention she is saving up for an LDS mission which she will be starting in the month of July. Casey jokingly asks, “How much of your nannying money are you willing to poney up?” Chantelle’s response was, “Put me down for $100.” Chantelle, we can not thank you enough. Although $100 seems small in number compared to the total raised, your donation meant more than any amount given. It was a donation valued beyond money. Thank you for setting an example to us all.
My heart is still so full. Our children really are what matter most. I wish every child, autism or not, could have the chance to become their best self. That’s all it takes is giving them a chance. Last night was proof that we all believe this. I know the attendance of our friends was an indication of their love and support for Cali and the cause, but ultimately I believe they were there because they each have their own child/children who they want nothing more than to see them succeed and become their best self.
How do you thank 150+ people when thank you does not seem adequate enough. I’m not exactly sure. I wish I could pass along the warmth I feel inside my heart. Thank you is not enough, but to each and everyone of you, THANK YOU!
(And yes…once again Casey and I forgot to capture pictures together. But thanks Kasey for having me capture such a cute one with you!)