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Record crowds boost awareness at annual Autism Day WA festivities

  • Written by Valley View Staff

CARNATION—Warm temperatures and a day filled with free activities combined to attract more than 600 families to the annual Autism Day WA celebration at Jubilee Farms in Carnation recently.

Founder Lynne Banki of Sammamish estimated that 1,500 people took part in the fun-filled event for families that have been touched by autism. The gathering of caregivers and vendors was designed to bring families together to relax in the peaceful surroundings of an actual working farm.

Non-profit specialist GFS Fund Development of Sammamish coordinated both the sponsorships and donations from dozens of local businesses to cover expenses for 11th annual event. The number of sponsors jumped by 25 percent this year, with vendors providing food, water and raffle items for the first time.

“Attendance this year was up by at least 50 percent over last year,” said Banki. “The great weather gave our kids the opportunity to experience more of the activities at each vendor booth. The most popular activity—once again—was the Slip ‘n Slide. The parents probably enjoyed watching as much as the kids loved sliding down the hill.”

Banki said all 600 Autism Day WA t-shirts were given away less than an hour after the event officially began at 11 a.m. There were 88 vendor booths set up on the pasture near the barn.

Sara Gardner, who coordinates the Autism Spectrum Navigators program at Bellevue College, said she was able to reach more families in just four hours at Jubilee Farms than she can usually connect with over an ordinary month.  The AS Navigators program provides support and peer mentoring for students at the college.

Banki said the continued success of the Autism Day WA will allow her to stage similar gatherings in other areas of Washington, and eventually in other states as well.

Additional photos from the 2012 Autism Day WA event and information about the sponsoring organizations is available at www.autismdaywa.org.

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