Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nancy Herndon Cale

Autism Light #461 is Nancy Herndon Cale.

Nancy Herndon Cale served as an advocate in the autism community for the past two decades, motivated by her personal relationship to autism as a grandmother. Her grandson Wynn Johnson has autism. She was born on January 5, 1944, in Atlanta and passed away on August 11, 2017, at the age of 73. Nancy was the co-founder of Unlocking Autism and had worked for over a decade as a counselor at the hotline call center for Autism Research Institute. She is survived by three children, Todd Hale, Shannon Johnson and Branndan VanEgmond, and four grandchildren. Her memorial service was held on August 13, 2017 at the Peachtree City Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia (Read more at Dignity Memorial). Nancy Herndon Cale will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

The following is a photo tribute to Nancy Cale from her daughter Shannon Johnson's YouTube Channel.

Unlocking Autism: Nancy Herndon Cale co-founded Unlocking Autism in 1998 with Shelley Hendrix Reynolds, in honor of her grandson, Wynn. In her role at Unlocking Autism, "Nancy fielded many thousands of calls and emails from families in need in the U.S. and around the world (Read more at National Vaccine Information Center, August 14, 2017)." She earned a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for her work in Unlocking Autism that involved fostering state and local governmental partnerships to help meet the needs of the autism community (Read more at Dignity Memorial Obituary).

Autism Research Institute: In her work at the Autism Research Institute, Nancy Herndon Cale answered calls at their hotline and served as an administrative assistant for conference planning.

Nancy Cale once said this about how the call center brought added purpose to her life:
I am humbled each and every day by the depth of the needs and concerns of those who call searching for help for their loved ones with autism. I am happy knowing the generous heart of our community makes it possible to assure new parents, parents facing new struggles, and adults looking for help. Bless you all who take time to reach out to others as we work to make life better for those who ask for our help (Read more at Autism Research Institute: Remembering Nancy Cale).
Nancy was indeed so dedicated to the work of the autism hotline call center, she continued to answer phone calls for Autism Research Institute up until the very day she was admitted to the hospital in August 2017 (Read more at Dignity Memorial Obituary).

We remember Nancy Herndon Cale for her efforts to counsel and provide community resources for families that struggle with autism. Her legacy is that of an autism grandmother who determined to do what she could to shine a light for autism. Her grandson Wynn Johnson can be very proud of his grandmother. His autism diagnosis spurred Nancy Herndon Cale to begin the great work she did. May Nancy Herndon Cale's example as an autism grandmother encourage others to make a difference for autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Montana Lights

The State of Montana is the home of 2 Autism Lights. The Montana group includes two individuals with autism.

Montana Autism Lights

  • Alexis Wineman has autism and she was Miss Montana in 2012, making her the first winner with autism in the history of the Miss America pageant. She is from Cut Bank, Montana
  • Thomas Russell is an artist who has autism. He is from Laurel, Montana

You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Montana" Label.

Image Attribution: By TUBS - Own workThis vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator.This file was uploaded with Commonist.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Usa edcp location map.svg (by Uwe Dedering).This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  USA Hawaii location map.svg (by NordNordWest).This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Canada location map.svg (by Yug)., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Caddie the Dog

Autism Light #460 is Caddie the Dog.

Caddie is a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix dog who lives in Newquay in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Caddie is a therapy dog for a 13 year old boy with autism named Joel Sayer. Caddie is an Autism Light for having a positive impact in improving Joel's journey with autism. In 2017, Caddie was a finalist in the Crufts hero dog competition by Eukanuba.

The following is the YouTube video made about Joel and Caddie in the Eukanuba Friends for Life hero dog competition in 2017.

Caddie helps Joel with a variety of everyday tasks and provides an anchor for his day to day experiences that can sometimes be frightening to a teenager with autism. Joel's mother Janet said about the intervention skills of Caddie that, "When Joel can't cope, he paces around, but Caddie will nudge him, Joel will start stroking him and he'll come back into our world (As quoted by Emma Cox,, March 8, 2018)."

Dogs for Good: Through the sharing of their amazing life story Joel and Caddie are encouraging people throughout the United Kingdom to support the charity Dogs for Good. Their efforts have raised over 32,000 pounds to enable other individuals with autism to obtain a therapy dog like Caddie. Joel said, "Fundraising is great, especially when it's for someone who helped you. It's the best way of saying thank you (As quoted by Emma Cox,, March 8, 2018)."

Caddie will be added to the Autism Light Animal Page today. Caddie is a fine example of a dog who is making a difference through a therapeutic and loving relationship with a young person with autism. We wish Joel and Caddie the best in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mike Iaconelli

Autism Light #459 is Mike Iaconelli.

Mike Iaconelli is a professional bass fisherman (BASS Elite Series angler), television personality, and podcast show host from Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey. He was born on June 17, 1972. He and his wife Becky have four children. Mike Iaconelli, whose nickname is Ike, is an Autism Light because of his concern to raise awareness for autism. He becomes the first professional fisherman to appear on Autism Light. His name will be placed today on the Autism Light Sports Page, along with other athletes that have been recognized through the years.

In November 2009, Mike Iaconelli cut off his famous beard and he sold it on eBay with the proceeds going to the New England Center for Children, a school for autism in Southborough, Massachusetts. See Ike Auctions Off His Lucky Beard on eBay for Autism Charity for more information on this charitable news.

The following is a YouTube video where Mike Iaconelli explains about his lucky beard helping an auction charity.

Fishin' with a Mission: The auction Mike Iaconelli did to benefit autism was utilized to further the efforts of the Fishin' with a Mission decal program that is led by Eli Delany. More information on this autism awareness initiative of Fishin' with a Mission is at

Television Show: In 2017, Mike Iaconelli started the Going Ike television series on the Pursuit Channel.

Wikipedia: Visit the Michael Iaconelli Wikipedia Page for more information on this Autism Light.

Social Media: For more information on Michael Iaconelli, follow him at these social media channels.
Special thanks to Michael Iaconelli for helping the New England Center for Children and for raising awareness for autism. Hopefully this action will encourage other celebrities to help relieve some of the financial needs that autism agencies have.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.