Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dave and Mindy Rice

Autism Lights #240 are Dave and Mindy Rice.

Dave and Mindy Rice are from Las Vegas, Nevada. Dave Rice is currently the head coach of the men's basketball team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dave and Mindy have two boys and their 9 year old son Dillon has autism. In response to the personal way in which autism has touched their lives they established the Dave Rice Foundation on February 9, 2012 (Source). Dave and Mindy Rice are Autism Lights for their work to make a difference for autism as parents and as creators of an autism foundation.

D.J. Allen, Sr., the Associate Athletic Director at UNLV said, "Anyone who has ever been involved in the life of a special needs child at any level understands the amount of love, dedication and sacrifice that goes into that child to maximize his or her potential. What Dave and Mindy have decided to do is personal. They're not doing this for sympathy. They're doing it because it's the right thing to do (Source)."

Education: Dave Rice graduated from UNLV in 1991 with a B.A. and 1993 with an MBA.

UNLV Basketball: Dave Rice was a member of the UNLV Men's Basketball team during the 1989-1990 season, when UNLV won the National Championship. After 11 years as an Assistant Coach for UNLV and one year as an Assistant Coach for Brigham Young University, Dave Rice became the head coach at UNLV on April 10, 2011. In the 2011-2012 season UNLV won 26 games and made it to the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Dave Rice Foundation: Here is a video of Dave and Mindy Rice talking about their autism foundation.

Dave and Mindy Rice started the Dave Rice Foundation on February 9, 2012. Dave Rice serves as Chairman of the Board and Mindy Rice serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Board.  Dave Rice said, "Shortly after we moved back to Las Vegas, we saw this as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, and to bring about attention to the needs of those who are affected by autism (Source)."

According to the Dave Rice Foundation website they are a "non-profit, tax exempt organization dedicated to the education and support of health initiatives including developmental disorders such as Autism, and other charitable causes. The Dave Rice Foundation will be partnering with the UNLV Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Dave Rice said, "The difficulty with autism is that we would go to the doctor and he would ask us what we thought. And I thought, 'Aren't you the doctor?' That was the frustrating part. And with this foundation, the education and awareness will just benefit everybody (Source)."

Fundraising Events:  On May 4, 2012, the foundation held "An Evening with Dave Rice" as it's first fundraiser (Source). On November 12, 2012, the Dave Rice Foundation held a fundraiser with the support of restaurants in Las Vegas (Source).

The following is a video of the press conference when Dave and Mindy Rice announced their foundation for autism.

For more information on the Dave Rice Foundation visit it's website at
or connect with them through the various methods listed on their website contact area

Social Media: You can follow Dave Rice and the Dave Rice Foundation at the following social media areas:
Special thanks to Dave and Mindy Rice for starting the Dave Rice Foundation and for being inspirational  public figures who are facing the challenges of being autism parents. The autism community in Nevada is blessed to have this foundation working to make the world a better place for families with autism. There will be a link to this post placed under the "Coach's section" of the Autism Light Sports Page as well as on the Autism Light Foundations Page

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Anthony Ianni

Autism Light #239 is Anthony Ianni.

Anthony Ianni is from Okemos, Michigan. Anthony has autism and defied all odds by graduating last year from Michigan State University. While in college he was a member of the nationally recognized Michigan State Spartans Men's Basketball Team. Anthony Ianni has a mission to spread an anti-bullying message to people within and outside the autism community. After graduation, Anthony became the Community Relations Advocate for the Autism Alliance of Michigan. Anthony Ianni is an Autism Light for his advocacy for autism and the example he sets of the success one can have in life even though they may have autism.

Anthony Ianni's biography for the Autism Alliance of Michigan starts out with these words about his remarkable journey through his educational process while having autism.
Anthony was diagnosed with autism at 4 years of age. His parents were told by medical specialists and professionals that he would never be successful academically, that he would likely not graduate from high school much less go to college, and most likely would live in a group home in the future--and that being an athlete was out of the question. HE PROVED THEM WRONG! (Source-Autism Alliance of Michigan).
College: Anthony Ianni received his B.A. in sociology from Michigan State University in 2012.  

Autism Light asked Anthony Ianni if he had any advice for students with autism and he said, 
For kids who struggle in school and they have autism, don't ever quit or give up on yourself or your school work. I struggled a lot in school whether it was homework, quizzes, or tests I still worked very hard to get my degrees from Okemos High School and Michigan State University. If you need help ask your teachers and they will help you in every way possible. I had more than 50 teachers who taught me throughout my life and I stay in contact with basically every one of them because they mean that much to me and without them I would not be the person that I am today. They are in the schools to help you be successful and always take advantage of that. I know I did and they helped me become very successful. Most importantly though, never ever ever give up in school. If things are hard just remember that there's always somebody there to help you.
Basketball Player:  Anthony Ianni played for the Michigan State University Spartans Men's Basketball team for two seasons from 2010-2012. In 2011 he earned the Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award and in 2012 he received the MSU Unsung Player Award.  Draymond Green, a college teammate of Anthony's who now plays in the NBA, said to Anthony, "It doesn't matter if I end up playing for Miami, Boston, Indiana, Cleveland, Detroit, or Dallas, no matter who I go up against in practice, no body will work as hard against me in practice like you did."  You can read more about Anthony's athletic career on his page at the Michigan State athletic website or his ESPN stats page

Autism Alliance of Michigan: Anthony Ianni works as the Community Relations Advocate for the Autism Alliance of Michigan. Anthony Ianni described his goals in life this way, "I want to make a difference in people’s lives, and I want to be able to be that hope and inspiration that people can look at, not just around the state but the nation as well (Source)." One of his roles is to share an anti-bullying message, especially how it relates to bullying towards the autism community. 

Anthony Ianni gave this quote to Autism Light on bullying:
Be careful what you say or do to others because they could be the next President of the U.S.A., a great movie star, or maybe the next Lebron James. If you see something, please say something because you can help prevent the bullying from happening and you could also not only change a person's life but possibly save one. Remember we are all different in many ways, but in the end we are all the same because we are created equally and we ARE all people.
Here is a small segment of Anthony Ianni presenting his anti-bullying message for Howell Public Schools in Michigan. 

To schedule Anthony for your event contact 

Governor's Michigan Autism Council: When Michigan Governor Rick Snyder established the Autism Council in 2012, Anthony Ianni was appointed to join the 12 member council as a representative of the Autism Spectrum Disorder community (Source). 

Autism Light asked Anthony Ianni if he had any encouragement for the autism community and he said,
People ask me all the time if there were days when I wanted to roll over and quit either because things were getting too hard, people always picking on me when I was younger, or if me having Autism was too much. Every time I heard people telling me I can't do something or I wouldn't be successful, I would take that negative energy and I would feed off of it. So I was too busy and very focused on accomplishing the things I wanted to do. Not to mention the words Never or Can't were apart of my vocabulary. I would never use my Autism as a crutch in my life. It's just something I was proudly born with and using excuses are not good things for people to use or say. If you have dreams or goals you want to achieve in life. Go for them, you may have people telling you that you can't, won't, never be good at anything in life. But all you need is motivation, support from great friends and family, and to work hard you'll get to your goals and dream. Reach for the stars because they're not hard to reach for. I've reached and touch the stars many many times in my life and I'm not done reaching for more stars in my life.
Here are some news articles written on Anthony Ianni's success.
Special thanks to Anthony Ianni and all he is doing for autism in Michigan. We believe that with his continued hardwork his impact will continue to be a ever growing light for autism. Anthony Ianni's post at Autism Light will be linked to the page with all those who Have Autism and also the Autism Light Sports Page.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Autism Light #238 is AutismCares.

AutismCares is a consortium of organizations that has been helping individuals with autism during times of both natural disasters and personal crisis since 2005.  They focus on helping anywhere a disaster occurs and recently they have been working to help victims with autism who were in the path of Hurricane Sandy.

According to their website, the mission of AutismCares is this.

AutismCares is a consortium of leading autism organizations who have come together to support individuals with autism and their families during natural disasters and other catastrophic life events (Source).

AutismCares' first national press release was in 2005 as a response to Hurricane Katrina (Source).  Here was a PSA's for AutismCares uploaded in 2007 on YouTube.

Partners: AutismCares 2012 partners include Autism Speaks, Doug Flutie Foundation, Talk About Curing Autism, FedEx, and the Lisa Higgins Foundation.

AutismCares provides information, resources, and grants to individuals with autism who have a need during a time of crisis. One may register online to apply for a grant at the AutismCares application login page.  AutismCares has the following notice on their website where people may go for more information.
The Autism Speaks Autism Response Team is taking calls from families affected by autism and Sandy. Trained staff (both English and Spanish speaking) are available to provide support and to direct callers to information, resources and assistance. Families can call the Autism Response Team at 1-888-288-4762, En EspaƱol at 888-772-9050, or email

If your family requires access to disaster help and resources: please visit or call (800) 621-3362. If there is an emergency, please call 911. (Source)
For more information on the work of AutismCares visit their website at

AutismCares is available not just during a disaster but also during castrophic life events for families with autism. Families facing foreclosure or having emergency needs for things like car repairs have been helped. You can read several testimonies of people helped by AutismCares on their website.  Here is one testimony.
"I wanted to send a note of thanks for giving us much needed help through Autism Cares. It hardly seems enough. The money you sent is going to help us more than you can imagine. We so appreciate Autism Cares and your ability to help those with autism and their families." - LA (Source).
Special thanks to AutismCares and all of it's partners who are helping meet needs for those with autism in times of disasters or personal need. They are truly a light and Hurricane Sandy has reminded us how much they are needed.

Note: There are many other organizations/foundations that have the resources to support people with autism in times of disaster or crisis. They may focus on a specific local, regional, or national area or target a specific group of families, such as military families. In the future Autism Light hopes to share about other organizations that are doing good work and following in the spirit of AutismCares to help those with autism in such needy times.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chris and Ivana LePoer

Autism Lights #237 are Chris and Ivana LePoer.

Today's Autism Lights endured a tragedy that no parent should ever have to face. And their constructive response to their loss will potentially be helpful to the future of autism research. Chris and Ivana LePoer are autism parents from Westborough, Massachusetts. Their 4 year old son Alexie LePoer had autism and tragically died from a pool drowning when he wandered away from his apartment on May 13, 2012--Mother's Day. Chris and Ivana LePoer are Autism Lights because after their son's death they quickly donated his brain to the Autism Research Foundation in time for it to be of use for autism research.

After he was diagnosed with autism and before his death, Alexie's parents were engaged in trying to help find answers to the mystery of autism. Chris LePoer said, "If some stranger came into your house and hurt your child, you'd want to know why. It needs to be understood. It needs to be stopped (Source)."

To help make a difference, Chris and Ivana LePoer enrolled in a research study of autism focused on younger siblings, a project overseen in part by Dr. Margaret Bauman at the Lurie Center for Autism in Lexington. After their son Alexie's untimely death they made the ultimate contribution by donating his brain to the Autism Research Foundation.

Sharon Henderson, a friend of the family said, “The family is dedicated and committed to finding answers to this terrible condition that affects so many of our children (Source)."

The Autism Research Foundation stores brains at the Harvard "Brainbank", formerly called the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. Alexie's four year old brain is the youngest ever received by the Autism Research Foundation for study. Note that Alexie LePoer's brain was not part of the group of brains from the Brainbank that were found to have tragically thawed and become damaged on May 31, 2012 (Source).

When Chris LePoer learned that his son's brain was not harmed in the Brainbank's tragic loss of a group of autism brains he said, "It's kind of a mixed bag. I'm just grateful he'll be able to continue to help in this horrible situation (Source)."

Special thanks to Chris and Ivan LePoer for donating their son's brain for autism research. We mourn the loss of this little boy with autism along with his parents, but are appreciative that they had the unselfishness to allow their son to be part of autism research after his death.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bernard Marcus

Autism Light #236 is Bernard Marcus.

Bernard Marcus is a businessman and the co-founder of Home Depot. Bernard Marcus was born to Jewish immigrants from Russia and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the years Bernard Marcus has been an Autism Light through his charitable giving for autism treatment and research. In 1991 he founded the Marcus Center for Autism in Atlanta, Georgia, which has helped over 40,000 children and families dealing with autism since it's formation.

Education: Bernard Marcus earned his pharmacy degree from Rutgers University. In 2008, Marcus was given the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters form Emory University. You can listen to his 2008 Commencement address at Emory University at on YouTube at this link.

Home Depot:  Home Depot (NYSE: HD) is the world's largest home improvement warehouse and has stores in all 50 states of the United States. Home Depot was founded in 1978 by Bernard Marcus, Arthur Blank, Ron Brill, and Pat Farrah (Source).  Marcus served as the CEO of Home Depot from 1979-1997. Although they are self-insured, Home Depot has provided the ABA benefit to all it's eligible full-time employees who have children with autism (Source).

Marcus Autism Center: The Marcus Autism Center is a premier organization for the diagnosis and treatment of autism in Atlanta, Georgia. They have received national acclaim through their designation as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Autism Center of Excellence (Source). Significantly, the Marcus Center has merged with the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to meet the unique medical needs of those they serve with autism (Source). For more information on the Marcus Autism Center visit their website at

The following video is Bernard Marcus discussing the work of the Marcus Center for Autism. In the video he explains the amazing work being done but also notes they "haven't even scrapped the surface."

Charitable Giving: Bernard Marcus is Jewish and besides children's causes and autism, he also has a passion for supporting Jewish causes through the Marcus Foundation, and he serves as the chairman of that foundation.  Business Week lists Bernard Marcus as one of the Top 50 Givers in America (Source).

Awards:  The following outstanding recognitions have been given to Bernard Marcus.
  • In May, 2005, Marcus received The Others Award from The Salvation Army.
  • In February, 2009, Marcus was named a Georgia Trustee, by the Georgia Historical Society, which is the highest award given to a Georgian for philanthropy and community service (Source).

More Information: For more information on Bernard Marcus you can visit these biographical websites:
Bernard Marcus' charitable interest in autism is making a difference for children in Atlanta and around the country.  In addition, families with autism who work at Home Depot are fortunate to receive a generous autism insurance benefit. Special thanks to Bernard Marcus for being an Autism Light.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Georgia Lights

The State of Georgia is the home currently to 9 Autism Lights. They include individuals with autism, autism parents, a professional athlete, animals, and a businessman. The Georgia delegation at Autism Light are outstanding examples of the diversity of autism.

Georgia Autism Lights

Individuals with Autism:
  1. Nicholas Bennett is from Gainesville, Georgia. He has autism and served as his high school's basketball team manager from 2011-2015. He gained fame for making 1,000 half-court shots over the years of practicing with the team.
  2. Cortland Hale is from Snellville, Georgia. He has autism and is a former football player with Brookwood High School. He is listed on the Autism Light Sports page.
  3. David Militello is a young singer who has autism from Georgia. He has been honorably nicknamed the "Little Michael Jackson".
Autism Parents:

Tom Herrion is an autism father and assistant coach for Georgia Tech.  He is the co-founder of Coaches Powering Forward for Autism. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
    Golden Retriever Puppies of LionPaws are puppies being trained to be services dogs with students with autism at The Lion School in Alpharetta, Georgia.
      Xena is from Johns Creek, Georgia and is a Pitbull who is a service dog to Jonny Hickey, who has autism.

      1. Jeff Francoeur is from Lilborn, Georgia. He plays Major League Baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies and was recognized for his great attitude toward a fan with autism while playing for the Kansas City Royals.
      2. Bernard Marcus is from Atlanta, Georgia. He is the co-founder of Home Depot and the benefactor for the Marcus Autism Center.
      Memorial Roll:
        Nancy Herndon Cale (1944-2017) is from Sharpsville, Georgia. She was an autism grandmother who spent decades of her life in advocacy and answering phones at the Autism Research Institute call center.

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

        The map of Georgia is in the Wikipedia Commons.

        James King

        Autism Light #235 is James King.

        James King is a military contractor from Orlando, Florida. He is married to Diane King and is the father of five children. James King is an Autism Light because on April 13, 2010, he rescued then 11 year old Nadia Bloom from a Florida swamp where she had been missing for four days.

        Nadia Bloom has the high functioning form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome.  She disappeared on April 9, 2010 and it would later be revealed that she had went on a hike by herself and got lost in an alligator infested swamp in Winter Springs, Florida. Search teams had been trying for days to find her. James King went out in the swam by himself on the morning of April 13, 2010 to search for her. When he found her James King used his cell phone to call 911 for help to get Nadia Bloom out of the swamp. Here is a news story on this rescue of a girl with autism done by the Today show in April, 2010.

        Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
        James King proclaimed that God helped him find Nadia Bloom. Norris J. Chumley gave this account in the Huffington Post about how faith helped James King be an Autism Light.
        Rescue teams searched for days on foot, by helicopter, and with search dogs, but James King, a volunteer and member of Nadia's church, began to pray while searching. On ABC's Good Morning America, King said, "I prayed and prayed, and God showed me the way. The hardest part of it was getting out of my own way; putting my own thoughts aside and listening to God." Appearing on NBC's Today Show, King confessed to Meredith Vieira that his wife, Diane King, gave him advice the night before joining the search, "James, when we lose something we pray in the spirit and we always find it.(Source)."
        Tanya Bloom, Nadia's mother said, "'Thank you' is not appropriate for what James King did. We are so fortunate God used him to bring her back to us (Source)."

        For more information on this rescue on April 13, 2010, see the following news stories

        Special thanks to James King for being an Autism Light and helping find Nadia Bloom when she was missing in 2010. When hope was diminishing for Nadia, James King armed with his faith and courage went searching for her. We wish both James King and Nadia best wishes in the years ahead.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        Tuesday, November 20, 2012

        Dez Childs

        Autism Light #234 is Dez Childs.

        Dez Childs is a contemporary Christian singer and songwriter from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  Dez Childs is an Autism Light for her contribution to autism awareness through her inspirational autism song called Father Song.  Dez Childs helps us understand autism through the perspective of a talented musician and believer in the Christian faith.

        Dez Childs began singing at conventions and festivals when she was just 12 years of age. She was following in her mother's footsteps who had a professional singing career under the name of Gigi Parker. Dez Childs became a Christian believer at age 15 and then started using her musical talent at worship gatherings for the church. Dez Childs is married to Steve Childs. Steve Childs is her producer, and a vocal instructor who is featured on the website

        The following is a video of Dez Childs singing her autism song called Father Song.  It is about the challenges faced by family members of children with autism. You can purchase the song on iTunes as part of Dez Childs album called Heart Cry. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit autism organizations.

        The lyrics to Father Song were written by Tara Bruce, a good friend of Dez Childs. Tara's son Colin has autism and through this song both Tara Bruce and Dez Childs are able to share the story of Colin's struggle with autism. The song accompanies the autism book Tara Bruce wrote called Why Is Colin Like That?

        Dez Childs has received positive reactions to the Father Song in the autism community. She writes to Autism Light:
        We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback concerning the song. From YouTube subscribers to family members of Tara Bruce, they have all been moved to share the song with others to help create an awareness of this behavioral disorder.
        Autism Light asked Dez Childs if she had any encouragement for the autism community.  She shared these words of particular relevance to those who believe in the Christian faith:
        Father Song is a simple prayer to God Who is the source of all hope. When families are faced with these kinds of situations it is easy to lose hope. Jesus said that in this life we will have tribulation but to not be afraid because He has overcome the world. There will be a day when there will be no more tears, disease nor death, but in the meantime we are to keep praying for strength to push on.
        Music Teacher:  Dez Childs has also served as a music teacher for School of Rock and Musically Speaking Studios (Source). You can vist her website at for more information on her outstanding up and coming career as a musician.

        Social Media:  You can follow Dez Childs on the following social media areas.
        Special thanks to Dez Childs for being an Autism Light. Father Song is an inspiration to the autism community. A link to this post for Dez Childs will also be placed on the Autism Light Music page today. We look forward to hearing more inspiring things about Dez Childs' work as a musician in the future.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        The photo in this post was used with permission of Dez Childs.

        Thursday, November 15, 2012

        Buddy Matthews

        Autism Light #233 is Buddy Matthews.

        John R. "Buddy" Matthews was from Economy, Pennsylvania. Buddy Matthews died tragically on August 22, 2009, from injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident. He was a self-employed home contractor who owned Matthews Home Improvements. Buddy Matthews left behind his wife Tricia, daughter Alyson, and a son Joel who has autism.  His obituary may be read at the Times Online.

        Buddy Matthews is being made an Autism Light posthumously because he was the co-founder of the Eric Barto Memorial Foundation for Autism.  Buddy and his wife Tricia created the foundation to honor the memory of their friend and to help children with autism, like their son Joel, to attend YMCA programs. After his death the motorcycle run was renamed the Buddy Matthews Memorial Ride and Benefit for Autism. Linda Voshall, Buddy's mother organizes the event.

        The 2nd Annual Ride was held on August 11, 2012. Be sure and mark your calendars for August 10, 2013 when the 3rd Annual Ride will be held. 55 motorcyclists participated in 2012, but the weather conditions were a factor. An event organizer Danny Kehoe said, "Buddy’s the one who started this whole thing because his son Joel has autism (Source)."

        The SewickleyPatch website reported:
        After Buddy Matthews’ death, the [Eric Barto] event was changed in his name and continues to benefit kids with autism. Proceeds from T-shirt sales, raffles, the silent auction, and other parts of the event go to the Sewickley Valley YMCA to benefit families and kids with autism (Source).
        Social Media: For more information you can "Like" the Buddy Matthews Memorial Ride on Facebook.

        Children with autism are being helped from the Buddy Matthews Memorial Ride. Buddy Matthews has a legacy as an Autism Light and it shines through this event as well as his unending love for his son Joel. May we never take life for granted and realize that every day is precious as we remember Buddy Matthews today. Autism Light will also honor Buddy Matthews by placing his name today on the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        Wednesday, November 14, 2012

        Kyle Forbes

        Autism Light #232 is Kyle Forbes.

        Kyle Forbes is a student in Houston, Texas who has autism. Kyle Forbes is an Autism Light for saving his art teacher's life in 2009. At the time of this heroic act he was 10 years of age.

        On October 13, 2009 at 10am, Kyle Forbes and his Art Teacher Sherri Lowe were alone in her class at Hyde Elementary School. Sherri Lowe chocked on an apple and couldn't breathe. Kyle jumped in and performed the Heimlich maneuver on his teacher clearing the airway and saving her life. According to reports Kyle learned how do the Heimlich maneuver in Cub Scouts and his father worked on reinforcement of the technique (Source).

        The story of Kyle Forbes' heroic act can be found on the following other websites.

        Special thanks to Kyle Forbes for being a hero and saving Art teacher Sherri Lowe's life. Kyle Forbes is an inspiration to many. He demonstrates that people with autism can learn important skills and truly make a difference in the lives of others.  Autism Light wishes Kyle Forbes the best in his future endeavors.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        Sunday, November 11, 2012

        Reggie B. Walton

        Autism Light #231 is The Honorable Reggie B. Walton.

        The Honorable Reggie B. Walton has served as the United States District Judge for the District of Columbia since October 29, 2001, having been nominated to the position by then President George W. Bush. Judge Walton is an Autism Light for his groundbreaking ruling on July 26, 2012, that will ease the path for military families to receive Applied Behavioral Analyis treatment for their children through their military health insurance known as TRICARE.

        Reggie B. Walton earned his law degree from American University, Washington College of Law in 1974.  Judge Walton is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

        On July 26, 2012, Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled that TRICARE, the health insurance program for United States active and retired military, must cover Applied Behavioral Analyis as a medically necessary therapy. The decision was in support of the plaintiffs in Civil Action No. 10-0373 in case known as Berge v. United States of America. Kenneth and Dawn Berge and a class of other impacted military families brought the Civil Action. The ruling will positively impact military dependents with autism who have basic TRICARE coverage and allow equal treatment for the autistic children of retired veterans as offered to active duty personnel.

        Judge Walton's ruling explained the effectivness of ABA Therapy for autism treatment. The conclusion of the judgment report had this important ruling: 
        Because the Agency's denial of ABA therapy coverage under the Basic Program is arbitrary and capricious, the Agency must therefore be enjoined from denying qualified beneficiaries coverage on the ground that ABA Therapy is not a covered benefit under the TRICARE Basic Program. Thus, the Court will remand the case back to the Agency with instructions that ABA therapy coverage be provided to Basic Program beneficiaries who otherwise qualify for reimbursement and such reimbursement be provided in compliance with the applicable TRICARE guidelines for the expenses incurred by qualified beneficiaries to acquire ABA therapy for their children. Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, the plantiffs' motion for summary judgment is granted and the defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment is denied (Source-The entire 66 page ruling can be read at this link).
        To learn more about how this judgment impacts military families with autism read the news coverage at the following websites.
        For more information about Judge Reggie B. Walton and his other judicial accomplishments besides this autism case visit his Wikipedia page or his official District Judge page.

        On this Veteran's Day we salute Judge Walton for giving a ruling that will directly help military families with autism. His ruling may also establish a precedence for future victories regarding insurance coverage of ABA treatment. Thanks to The Honorable Reggie B. Walton the door has been opened and the future appears brighter for military families and veterans who have children with autism that need ABA treatment.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        The photo of Judge Walton is in the Public Domain.

        Florida Lights

        The State of Florida is the home of 22 Autism Lights. They include parents, individuals with autism, politicians, professors, a teacher, and athletes. People who live in Florida with autism are blessed that the state is the home to several foundations started by autism parents who live in Florida.

        Florida Autism Lights

        Individuals with Autism:
        1. Joshua Banks is an artist who has autism. He lives in Jensen Beach, Florida.
        2. Anita Lesko is a writer and anestheseologist who has Asperger's. She lives in Pensecola, Florida.
        3. King Richard has autism and is from Pensecola, Florida.
        4. Reid Soria is a musician who has autism from Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.
        5. Jacob Velazquez is a piano prodigy who has autism from South Florida.

        1. Travis Rudolph is an NFL wide receiver and former standout at Florida State that showed compassion to a student with autism. He is from West Palm Beach, Florida

        Autism Parents
        1. Troy Blevins is an Autism Father from St. Augustine, Florida. He has raised awareness for autism through walking across the country.
        2. Ernie and Liezl Els are Autism Parents and Ernie is a Professional Golfer. They have a home in Jupiter, Florida and founded the Els for Autism Foundation.
        3. Jamie Grover is the Program Director for Autism on the Seas and he is an Autism Father. He is from Orlando, Florida.
        4. Cliff Kresge is an Autism Father with a home in Heathrow, Florida. He is a professional golfer and founder of Kresge's Krew Foundation that benefits autism charities in East Tennessee.
        5. Dan and Claire Marino are Autism Parents from Miami, Florida. They created the Dan Marino Foundation for autism.
        6. Barry and Judith Nelson are Autism Parents from South Florida. They founded the Victory Center for Autism & Behavioral Challenges in North Miami Beach, Florida.
        7. Jim Palmer is an Autism Father and Hall of Fame Baseball Player. He has a home in Palm Beach, Florida.
        8. Luis Viera and Jorge Santeiro are founders of the Lawyers Autism Awareness Foundation. They are from Tampa Bay, Florida.
        1. The Honorable Joan Lenard is a United States Judge on the United District Court for the Southern District Court of Florida who ordered that Medicaid in Florida should cover ABA treatment for autism.
        2. Sen. Marco Rubio is a United States Senator representing Florida who has a record of being a champion for autism legislation.
        1. James King of Orlando, Florida is a volunteer rescuer who found missing Nadia Bloom on April 13, 2010.
        2. JJ's Chickens are autism therapy to JJ Hart in DeBary, Florida.
        3. The My Autistic Muslim Child is authored by an Autism Mother in Orlando, Florida. 
        Memorial Roll from Florida:
        1. The late Herbert A. Kahn (1925-2005) helped found the Autism Society of America in 1965. He lived in Boynton Beach, Florida. His name is on the Autism Light Memorial Roll. 
        2. The late Jason Mann (1971-2013) was a teacher of students with autism at Breakfast Point Academy in Panama City Beach, Florida. His name is on the Autism Light Memorial Roll.
        3. The late Robin Parker (196x-2014) was a professor a Nova Southeastern University who specialized in Communication Disorders related to autism. She was from North Lauderdale, Florida. Her name is on the Autism Light Memorial Roll.
        You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Florida" Label.

        The photo used in this post is the Florida Sunrise by Scott Meltzer.
        The map of Florida is from the Wikipedia Commons.

        Friday, November 9, 2012

        United States

        Autism Light has reached a special milestone today. Autism Light #230 from Washington State completes a goal we have had since the early days of the blog to be able to share the positive stories about autism from around the entire United States. As of today there is at least one Autism Light from every state in the United States of America featured on this blog. Some of the larger states like California and New York have several Autism Lights but each state has at least one.

        With this milestone reached it brings us to a new project that will be integrated into the Autism Light blog. We will begin dedicating a post on each state and including links on the page to the respective Autism Lights that call that state home. The purpose of this will be to make it easier for people to see what Autism Light stories are available from a particular state. We will also begin to help promote positive autism events from the respective state on the page.

        Please be patient with us as it will take a while to cover every state. In the meantime you can always find an Autism Light from a particular state by clicking on the state "Label" in our Homelands page.

        Thanks for helping us honor these diverse Autism Lights through your visits to this blog.

        Linda Foley

        Autism Light #230 is Linda Foley.

        Linda Foley is the Executive Director of FEAT of Washington (WA). FEAT stands for Families for Effective Treatment of Autism. The organization is based in Belleville, Washington. According to Linday Foley there are over 10,000 families in the state of Washington effected by autism. Linda Foley is an Autism Light for her efforts to lead FEAT of WA in making life brighter for those with autism in Washington state.

        The following is a Comcast Newsmakers feature on Linda Foley in her work at FEAT of WA.
        Linda Foley said in the above interview, "FEAT of Washington is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing families with hope and guidance so their children with autism can achieve their full maximum potential." For more information on FEAT of Washington visit their website at
        You can also contact FEAT of WA at the following address:
        FEAT of Washington
        Located in Lake Sammamish Foursquare Church
        14434 NE 8th St., Second Floor
        Bellevue, WA 98007
        Phone (425) 223-5126
        Fax (425) 502-9310

        FEAT of Washington is also featured as a resource in the Autism Guidebook for Washington State.
        In addition to her leadership of FEAT of Washington, Linda Foley also serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of CHILD (Children's Institute for Learning Difficulties (Source).

        Special thanks to Linda Foley for her work at FEAT of Washington. Linda Foley is the first Autism Light from the state of Washington. Her efforts are a light to the autism community in the state of Washington as she helps lead FEAT of Washington.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        Thursday, November 8, 2012

        Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson

        Autism Lights #229 are Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson.

        Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson are from Omaha, Nebraska.  They have two sons with autism. Scott is a pilot and owner of the air charter company, UltraAir and Gail Werner-Robertson is a lawyer who founded GWR Wealth Mangement. Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson are Autism Lights for being dedicated parents of autism and for bringing hope and help to those with autism in Nebraska through the Autism Action Partnership that they founded.

        The role Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson had in the origins of the Autism Action Partnership is explained this way on the Autism Action Partnership's website.
        Gail Werner-Robertson and Scott Robertson, the founders of Autism Action Partnership (AAP), laid the groundwork for Autism Action Partnership in 2000 when they began the GWR Sunshine Foundation. As the parents of two sons diagnosed with autism, they personally experienced the constant challenges and frustrations associated with finding adequate, cost effective treatment services, medical expertise, and basic educational support for their children. Determined that other Nebraska families would not have to endure the same struggles, Gail and Scott began their work to provide support to individuals with autism and their families across the state (Source).
        You can view a news story on the work of Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson on YouTube at (sorry the YouTube settings won't allow this great video of Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson to be embeded here).  In addition, here is a YouTube video spotlighting the different programs associated with the Autism Action Partnership.

        The Autism Action Partnership became a public non-profit organization in 2008.  Gail Werner-Robertson serves as the Chairman of the Board to this day. Gail's motivation for making a difference for autism can be understood in the following statement she made as an autism parent:

        "All I ever wanted was for my child to be invited to just one birthday party (Source)."

        Gail Werner-Robertson: Gail Werner-Robertson earned both her B.A. and J.D. from Creighton University. For more information on Gail Werner-Robertson you can read her biography at the Plate Institute for Economic Research's website.

        Scott Robertson: Scott Robertson's biography on the UltraAir website says the following:
        Scott is a founding board member of the Nebraska Business Aviation Association and sits on the boards of the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Children's Scholarship Fund. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and resides in Omaha with his wife and four children (Source).
        Scott and Gail Werner-Robertson are the first Autism Lights from the state of Nebraska. Their dedication to shining a light for autism in Omaha, Nebraska is an inspiration to the autism community. The autism community is fortunate to have them as parent leaders who fight the good fight for autism in Nebraska.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        Thursday, November 1, 2012

        Anthony Starego

        Autism Light #228 is Anthony Starego.
        Anthony Starego is a senior at Brick High School in Brick, New Jersey. He has autism and is the place kicker for his high school football team.  Anthony was an orphan at the age of 3 and lived in 11 foster homes before being adopted by Ray and Reylene Starego. Anthony Starego is an Autism Light for his achievements in football and how he has overcome disabilities and disappointments in his life to be an inspiration to others who have autism.
        Anthony Starego kicked the game winning field goal on October 19, 2012 in a game where his team Brick High School played Toms River North High School.  Below is a video on Anthony Starego's amazing accomplishment on the football field.
        Anthony Starego's coach Kurt Weiboldt said his autism is an asset as a kicker, "Fifty times a day, that's all he does. Just three steps back, one over and he hits the ball. That's what he knows and that's what he did (Source)." 
        Anthony said this about his experience with football in high school:  "I do the same thing over and over again. It helps me a lot, and I'm having the best day of my life (Source)."

        Anthony Starego will be added to the Autism Light Sports page and join some other fine high school athletes who have autism. We wish him the best in his future endeavors as his outstanding attitude, dedication, and talent shines a light for autism.  
         Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.