Supporters of the Yampa Valley Autism Program gathered for the local nonprofit’s inaugural Masquerade Ball in fall 2008. The third annual event, benefitting services and programs provided by the Autism Program, is from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
- Saturday, March 5, 2011, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
/ $50 - $90
Steamboat Springs Thirteen-year-old Alexandra English used to go door to door trying to raise money for her 11-year-old autistic brother, Jack.
Up until this year, she rode the bus with the schoolchildren with disabilities just to be with him.
She explains to confused passers-by about her brother’s severe autism. But she knows that awareness is not where it ends. The occupational, behavioral, social and physical therapies are necessary for Jack’s and his family’s quality of life.
“It really helps my brother, and it’s important for all the kids,” Alexandra said about raising money for autism services. “It’s so (parents of autistic children) can help their children learn and get more stuff for their children.”
She’s not alone in her crusade. Lu Etta Loeber, executive director of the Yampa Valley Autism Program that offers services to about 60 families like Jack’s, said at least one in 110 children is diagnosed with the disorder each year.
“Statistically, Routt County is higher than average, and we don’t know why,” Loeber said. “We need the support of community.”
The Yampa Valley Autism Program presents its annual fundraiser, the Masquerade Ball, from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Tickets are $50 for an individual and $90 for a couple.
Previously the fundraisers took place in the fall, but Loeber said it seemed more festive to hold the event during actual Mardi Gras season.
“First of all, it’s fun to decorate,” she said. “We’re going to be featuring Cajun fare —great gumbo. We have hurricanes and hurricane glasses you get to take home.”
Mardi Gras-goers can dance to the country rock tunes of local band Loose Change, and there will be silent and live auctions.
The live auction features some big-ticket items, including a gourmet dinner for 12 with limo service, Circle the Zirkels with pilot Jack Dysart, a week’s stay in La Pas, Mexico, and a Colorado Avalanche package including hotel stay.
“It’s our major fundraiser of the year,” Loeber said. “The proceeds from this really help to sustain our programs.”
The ticket prices alone help fund local autism services.
One $50 ticket can pay for five hours of respite care for parents, and $90 pays for an hour of behavioral therapy; both serve autistic children and their families for optimal social and developmental growth.
“The money it raises helps with all the therapies, but we’re really looking forward to behavioral therapy,” said Denise English Kreger, Jack and Alexandra’s mother. “It’s huge, and we really don’t have that in town.”
The funds raised also will help the Community Cultivation program, which encourages work skills as well as provides support for the dinner club, which allows autistic children to cook, socialize and learn about nutrition.
“Early intervention and ongoing therapy produces a better outcome,” Loeber said. “They’re able to function better in school, and family relationships at home are better. We could not provide these services without the support of the community. It is a community effort.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@SteamboatToday.com