(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- April is Autism Awareness Month, and Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz is inviting the public to a special ceremony for this year’s artistic display in Downtown Miami to educate residents about the disorder. On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, the commissioner will unveil artwork in the Stephen P. Clark Center lobby, 111 NW First Street, created by students from the South Florida Autism Charter School. Information about autism and treatment will also be available throughout the entire month of April.
In addition, Bryce Lucas, a young man with self-identified Asperger’s Syndrome, will serve as a guest speaker at the event and talk about his experiences. Bryce is currently enrolled at Broward College where he will soon receive a degree in Liberal Arts. He participated in the Dan Marino Foundation’s Summer STEPS employment program working at Nova Southeastern University, the Fort Lauderdale Main Library, and North Broward Medical Center. Miami-Dade County Public School Board Member Raquel Regalado will also be speaking about her own experience raising an autistic child. Paola Pedroza, who stars in Univision’s “El Talismán,” will serve as the event’s mistress of ceremony.
Additional event sponsors include the Dan Marino Foundation, Autism Speaks, and the South Florida Autism Charter School. Panera Bread is also partnering with the Dan Marino Foundation for a special fundraising effort to raise autism awareness. Panera has created an exclusive “football” cookie that will be sold individually or by the “Marino Dozen,” which will contain 13 cookies. Football cookies from the “Touchdown for Autism” campaign will be available at 33 Panera bakery-cafés throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties during the entire month of April. For every cookie sold, $1 will benefit the foundation’s planned Vocational College to serve teens and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Autism Awareness Month came to fruition in Miami-Dade in 2009 as the result of legislation sponsored by Commissioner Diaz. The specially-designated month is designed to increase awareness about autism and treatment, as well as promote research to fight the disorder. According to non-profit Autism Speaks, autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that impairs communication skills and social abilities. There is no known cause or cure for autism, which is estimated to affect 1 out of every 110 children born in the United States.
For more information, please contact Commissioner Diaz’s office at 305-599-1200.