By JEFFREY CULLEN-DEAN
The West Georgia Autism Foundation will be hosting a fundraiser concert, Concert on the Farm, on Sept. 14 at NG Turf Farm in Whitesburg.
The concert will raise money for WGAF to purchase modified bikes and tricycles for autistic children.
Jason Swindle, president WGAF, said some children with autism are unable to ride regular bicycles.
“Children who are on the mid-to-low end of the spectrum have balance problems and many of them can’t ride bikes,” he said. “We can get these children out of the home and get them on places like the Greenbelt and outside so they can play with their friends. A lot of children, they isolate themselves.”
The concert will feature the Tyn Times Band and four large televisions showing four different college football games, said Swindle.
According to Harry Nelson, WGAF’s treasurer, the foundation will reach out to organizations in the counties it serves to solicit applications for children who are in need of a modified bike.
“Once we have all our applications in we will then be purchasing the bikes,” he said.
Swindle said his son is autistic and started the foundation after noticing treatment was not easily available to everyone diagnosed.
“We could afford the diagnosis, the treatment, the counselors, but I started to notice other children in the community who did not have those resources,” Swindle said. “So I thought about it for a few months and I said, ‘We’ll start a small foundation.’ From there, it’s taken off and we raised $70,000 in our first fundraiser.”
WGAF’s mission is to provide financial assistance to families with an autistic child, promote awareness of the disorder and to increase the education of autism in the community.
“You hear about nationwide foundations and support systems but you don’t really hear a lot about local resources,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of urbanization where people move out of their hometowns to find services elsewhere and we don’t think that’s right. We think it’s important to have something local.”
Nelson said WGAF offers financial assistance through grants given out each year. The grants cover costs for therapy and education.
“Even if you don’t know what autism is, if you’re a taxpayer it affects you,” Swindle said. “If someone is diagnosed and start receiving treatment at a young age, the chance of them becoming independent or semi-independent increases significantly so they don’t have to rely on taxpayer benefits. They won’t have to go to the government or family members.”
The doors open for the concert at 5 p.m. and the music will start at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $75 per person. To purchase tickets, go to www.wgaautism.org .
For questions and additional information, contact Harry Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org .