Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4th Annual Huddle Up for Autism

Outreach Coordinator
Center for Autism Research

This year, Mother Nature graced us with a beautiful day on April 14th for the 4th Annual Huddle Up for Autism hosted by the Center for Autism Research (CAR) at CHOP and the Philadelphia Eagles!

Tickets for this carnival-style family fun day geared towards families who have children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sold out in less than a week this year!

This is an event that many families look forward to every year because of the unique opportunities it affords their children. Attendees can run out onto the stadium field and see themselves on the jumbotron, interact with current Eagles players, participate in a junior cheer clinic with the Eagles cheerleaders, take a tour of the Eagles locker room, run a football drill with Temple football players, or play a game of life-sized Angry Birds! We also have bouncy houses, face painters, balloon artists, magicians, the Philadelphia Zoo’s Zoo on Wheels, an interactive experience with staff from the Franklin Institute, and much more!

We pull out all the stops to help make this day as easy as possible for families who have children with ASD. Event staff strive to minimize the wait time in lines, gluten-free food is available, and quiet rooms are open for kids who are overstimulated and need a break from the event. Additionally, Child Specialists who are trained to work with kids with ASD wander around the stadium armed with stickers, temporary tattoos, small toys, and ear plugs. They look for children who are struggling and try to assist in any way they can.

We received lots of positive feedback from this year’s event! To quote from one mom who posted on CAR’s Facebook page, “We usually have to leave public events early as it is too much for my son. I was afraid this would be the case, but everyone was so nice and helpful, we were able to get through everything we wanted with no problem. Had a wonderful time, thank you and all your volunteers!!!”

Another mom sent her thanks along too, “Thank you so much for having this event! My family thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well run, organized, lines moved fast & the staff was awesome. It was our first time coming & our ASD son was having such a great time, he was crying when we were leaving. THAT means he enjoyed it, which a lot of times doesn't happen at events that have the potential to be overwhelming. The ease & flow of the experience allowed it to be enjoyable for him. MANY THANKS!”

We appreciate any and all feedback from this event and are happy to hear families enjoyed it as much as we did!

Last  year, we introduced a fundraising program for Huddle Up to benefit research at CAR. We are pleased to announce that YOU raised around $34,000 this year! This is a huge accomplishment!!! The money will be used to help CAR further its research into the biological causes of ASD.

We would especially like to recognize and thank our top three fundraisers:
  1. Megan Donegan raised $2,500 and received two pre-game field passes and two tickets to a Philadelphia Eagles home game for the 2013-2014 season.  Megan’s Game Day Experience also includes a parking pass and a $20 voucher to be used towards concessions or merchandise.
  2. Kevin Hitt raised $2,340 and received an autographed helmet by Eagles running back, LeSean “Shady” McCoy.
  3. Michelle Goldberg raised $2,095 and will join Eagles great and alum, Harold Carmichael for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Eagles practice facility, The NovaCare Complex.
We here at the Center for Autism Research look forward this event to every year, and we truly think this year was the best one yet!
If you haven't made a donation to CAR and would like to do so, you can visit Huddle Up for Autism's donation page here.

To view more photos from the event, please visit CAR’s Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos that you took at Huddle Up to our page as well!