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knights autism270The Knights of Meaford have chosen to dedicate this year’s charity game on Thursday, January 23, against the Brampton Bulls to raise autism awareness and to donate the proceeds of the game to two local not-for-profit organizations that are offering valuable programs and support for adults with special needs.

The Knights hope to raise both autism awareness and funds for Community Living Meaford and Events for Life during what Knights Scouting Director Dan Smith is confident will be a fun night in the name of good cause.

As in past years, the Knights will be wearing special event jerseys that will be auctioned off. There will be a beer garden, full canteen, donation boxes, raffle items, a bake sale, the ever-popular chuck-a-puck with $20, $30, and $50 prizes sponsored by Meaford Dairy Queen. As well, Leeky Canoe Pub & Eatery will sponsor a shoot-out between second and third periods.

In all, it should be a good night,” Smith said. “The number of sponsors is encouraging: Chef at Home Catering, Stone Project Management, Leeky Canoe, Dairy Queen Meaford, Bruce Street Technology, Grey Noise Entertainment, and Rotary Club of Meaford. We could use more sponsors. Just contact me at scouting@meafordknights.ca.

Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability the impact of which varies from one person to the next. Generally individuals with autism have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Events for Life and Community Living Meaford are not-for-profit organizations that provide programs geared to adults with disabilities like autism and support for their families.

Mary and Geoff Solomon have been invited by the Knights of Meaford to be ambassadors during the January 23 fundraising game. They are parents to Evie, an adult daughter with autism. They know how critical programs such as those offered by Events for Life and Community Living Meaford are to both the individuals with autism and to their families. They know how important it is for families of individuals with autism to receive the help and resources they need to balance the special needs of an individual with autism with daily family life. And they know how important it is to learn as much as possible to better understand autism.

Most parents who are senior citizens are becoming resigned to the fact our children will be with us forever due to the shortage of housing,” Mary said. “It’s a huge problem. Placement is on a crisis basis since the waiting lists are so long.

Individuals with autism have great assets and we need as a society to be more perceptive and aware of these assets. If they are stuck at home with aging parents, that is not going to happen.

I read a book once called A Fortunate Life. The gentleman, A.B. Facey, had lived a tough life in his younger years, but at 83 he looked back and thought, ‘I have lived a very good life. It has been rich and full. I have been very fortunate and am thrilled by it when I look back.’ I think this is what we all wish and this hope is what programs such as Events for Life and support workers bring. Having the patience, insight, hopefulness, and expectation are key to development and bringing the best out in someone. I think with children, even adult children with autism, we get very clinical and often lose the person and their magnificent yet unique abilities. To be respected, understood, given a chance to be purposeful and not abandoned when the times get tough are the advantages of great programs like Events for Life and support workers like our Morgan. They contribute to decreasing family strife and worry and contribute positively to the well-being of the individual.

I think their role is to help their participants live a ‘fortunate' life. If the ability to send the individual to programs ends it robs the individual, the family, and the community of the fortunate and purposeful life.

Game time: January 23, 7:30 p.m., Meaford and St Vincent Community Centre.