Friday, January 31, 2014

Cliff Kresge

Autism Light #335 is Cliff Kresge.

Cliff Kresge is a 45 year old professional golfer and an autism father. Cliff Kresge's 13 year old son Mason has autism. Cliff Kresge has homes in both Heathrow, Florida and Kingsport, Tennessee.  The headquarters of Kresge's Krew Foundation is in Kingsport, Tennnessee and proceeds benefit autism in East Tennessee, which has fewer autism resources than Florida. Cliff Kresge is an Autism Light for his dedication as an autism father and for how his golfing and charitable work makes a difference for autism in East Tennessee.

Golfer: Cliff Kresge states on his website that, "I got started in golf at age 8 when my parents moved to the 13th hole of Dubsdread GC in Orlando, FL. My swing is natural. I learned to play the game on my own, without an instructor (Cliff Kresge.Net)." Kresge turned pro in 1991 and made his PGA debut in 1994. You can view his golfing statistics at his page on ESPN. Cliff Kresge was the winner of the 2002 Virginia Beach Open.

Golf Week Magazine Father of the Year: In 2011 Cliff Kresge was honored as the Father of the Year by Golf Week Magazine.

Kresge's Krew Foundation:  Cliff Kresge started Kresge's Krew Foundation in honor of his son Mason. Kresge said, "My son inspired us to do our foundation. It's a bittersweet thing, but it is very gratifying and very rewarding (Knox News, August 20, 2012)."

"Kresge's Krew Foundation has raised some $350,000 over the past five years for autism care in East Tennessee (, Jeff Shain, April 24, 2013)." Cliff Kresge said, "Every little bit helps. It doesn't go far enough, I promise you. But to me, awareness is the biggest thing (, Jeff Shain, April 24, 2013)."

Find out more information about Kresge's Krew Foundation on their Website.

The following is a video of Cliff Kresge explaining about the third year of the Kresge's Krew Tourney for Autism Awareness that was held in September, 2011.

After a fundraising event in 2010, Kresge said, "My message with an event like this is that autism isn't some sort of death sentence--autism is something you can function with if you get the proper help. I've learned to appreciate what I have in my life, because I've learned some kids don't have a choice in how their lives go (Golf, Jeff Babineau, September 16, 2010)."

Social Media: You can follow Cliff Kresge on the following social media areas.
Wikipedia:  You can learn more about Cliff Kresge on the Cliff Kresge Wikipedia Page.
Website: Visit the official Cliff Kresge Website for more information on his activities.

Special thanks to Cliff Kresge for being an Autism Light. The blessing he is providing to the autism community in East Tennessee is impacting many lives. We wish him the best in all his autism awareness and his ongoing roll as one of our super autism fathers.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elijah Winfrey

Autism Light Classic 
Updated on January 12, 2016.

Autism Light #334 is Elijah Winfrey.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2014 we honored a golfer and autism uncle who like the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is using service as his road to make a difference in the world and to shine a light for autism. Elijah (Eli) Winfrey is a now 42 year old autism uncle and golfer from Redmond, Washington. He is married to Lisa Winfrey and has one son Jordan Andrew Winfrey. Elijah's nephew and niece, who are from his birthplace of Augusta, Georgia, have autism. Elijah Winfrey is an Autism Light because he raises autism awareness, in honor of his autistic nephew and niece, through his leadership at the Seattle Children's Autism Guild, his golfing, and his non profit organization called Team Winfrey.

Elijah Winfrey
This post is our 3rd annual feature to honor someone who is an Autism Light in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Previous people selected for this significant day were:
Autism Light believes that if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had seen the high rates of autism in his day he would been an autism advocate and might have even added to his "I have a Dream" speech a line such as, "I have a dream that little children with autism will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the eloquence of their communication but by the messages of their heart."

Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.
A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that adds insight into the vision that Eli Winfrey follows in his life is when King said, "Everybody can be great...because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't need to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant (The King Center Archives"The Drum Major Instinct", Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2/4/1968).

Eli Winfrey wrote a blog on Martin Luther King, Jr. day in 2012 and said, "As Martin Luther King Jr. said,...You don't have to be famous to be great or to serve. We are all great and we all have a calling to serve whatever it is we believe in. I'm no pro golfer or celebrity with access to millions of people, but if I can spark that one person to stand up and help me, then I know many will follow (Eli Winfrey Blog, Making a Difference, 1/20/2012).

Eli Winfrey said this to Autism Light about autism, "Autism affects 1 in 50 children and it grows every day. We have to all sit down together and continue to figure out ways to help our communities and continue to raise awareness. At the end of the day we are all in this together. We also have to listen, educate and never forget about the moms and dads who also need us."

Golf Tour: Elijah Winfrey golfs competitively on tour with the Golf Channel. He says that in 2016 he will play in 12 events including Las Vegas and for the first time playing in Florida. He says, "My game is still in the process of getting better (Eli Winfrey Blog, New Year New Goals, 1/1/2016)."  Eli Winfrey told Autism Light that, "The main reason I play golf is to raise awareness for and about Autism. I feel like I represent the autism community whenever I tee it up."

Elijah Winfrey Open Invitational Golf Tournament: Elijah Winfrey started the Elijah Winfrey Open Invitational Golf Tournament to raise support for autism. His 2016 golf tournament is planned for August 18, 2016.

Charitable Causes
Team Winfrey: On January 20, 2012, Elijah Winfrey founded the charity, Team Winfrey. It was launched to "contribute to the health and happiness of our communities by making a personal, meaningful impact on individuals and families (Team Winfrey Facebook Page)." Elijah Winfrey serves as the President of Team Winfrey. In addition to the Elijah Winfrey Open Invitational Golf Tournament, the charity does events like a sensory friendly bowling night, a golf clinic, and distribution of essential supplies to low income and homeless families in Seattle. In 2016, Elijah plans to offer two scholarships to help individuals with autism receive tutoring that will help them graduate from high school. Stay in touch with the charity work at The Team Winfrey Website.

Miracle League of Vancouver, Washington: Elijah Winfrey helps out the Miracle League of Vancouver, Washington and plans to provide scholarships for children to play baseball who can't afford the sign up fees.

Seattle Children's Autism Guild: Eli Winfrey is the former Vice-President of the Seattle Children's Autism Guild. He continues to work with them but left his position as Vice-President in order to devote more time to his Team Winfrey organization. A gala event in November, 2013, that Eli worked with raised over $400,000 for the Seattle Children's Autism Guild. Their website describes their work in this way:
The Seattle Children's Autism Guild formed to support the Seattle Children's Autism Center's efforts to eliminate barriers to care and to ensure families have access to diagnostic and clinical services. As part of our efforts to support The Autism Center, we strive to foster hope in those families affected by autism (Seattle Children's Autism Guild Website). 
Autism Speaks: Elijah Winfrey has raised funds for Autism Speaks over the years through his golfing and in walking fundraisers, and thus his support of autism service is not limited to his local community but extends to national efforts under the leadership of Autism Speaks.

Make a Wish Foundation: Elijah Winfrey has been a volunteer for the Make a Wish Foundation in Alaska and Washington State. Eli Winfrey was interviewed for an article for the charity called, "What does the Number 23 Mean to You" (Make a Wish Foundation, 8/15/2013).

Talkin Autism with Lisa and Eli: Eli Winfrey has been the co-host of Talkin Autism With Lisa and Eli. You can access episodes of previous shows of Talking Autism on

Website: Be sure and visit the Elijah Winfrey website at to learn more about his work. On his website you can learn about autism and golfing, as well as read his blog.

Social Media: You can follow Elijah Winfrey on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Elijah Winfrey for being an Autism Light. The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. will live on in perpetuity as long as individuals like Elijah Winfrey commit their lives to service. And the burden of autism will be lighter for many when like Elijah Winfrey our service is dedicated to autism. We expect to continue to hear exciting things in the future about the impact of Elijah Winfrey's service for autism. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo in this post of Elijah Winfrey was used with permission of Elijah Winfrey.
The photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. in this post is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and is from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

JP Morgan Chase

Autism Light #333 is JP Morgan Chase & Company.

JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is a banking and financial services company that was founded in 1799, in New York, New York by JP Morgan, starting as the Manhattan Bank. The corporation does business currently under the name of Chase and in 2000 it's companies became known as JP Morgan Chase & Company. Chase is the largest bank in the United States in terms of assets. Beginning on January 1, 2014, Chase started offering the autism insurance benefit to it's employees who have children with autism. Since Chase's medical plan is self-insured they are not required by any law to offer this. JP Morgan Chase is an Autism Light for it's voluntary assistance to autism families who are employed at their corporation by offering autism coverage in their employee health insurance plans.

Stephen Cutler, who serves as General Counsel at Chase and an Advisor to Access Ability, the Business Resource Group for Chase employees affected by disabilities, said this about the announcement.
JP Morgan Chase is excited to offer ABA Therapy and provide this important treatment alternative for the children of our employees. One in 88 children is diagnosed with Autism. With almost 160,000 employees enrolled in our U.S. medical plan, we are confident that this important new offering will change the lives of many of our employees (Business Wire, JP Morgan Chase Adds Autism Benefits to Employee Health Plans, November 26, 2013).

The following video presentation explains the business of JP Morgan Chase.

Bernadette Ulissi Branosky, JPMorgan's head of benefits, said, "Adding this type of benefit has been the biggest request we've heard from employees in recent years, and the outpouring of gratitude has been overwhelming (Reuters, JP Morgan, other employers move to cover costly autism therapies (December 16, 2013)."

The following are links to news stories on JP Morgan Chase offering autism insurance for it's employees.

Twitter: You can follow Chase at their Twitter for Chase @Chase.

Wikipedia: You can learn more about Chase at their Wikipedia Page.

Special thanks to JP Morgan Chase for being an Autism Light and providing autism insurance for the families of it's employees. They are setting an example for other Fortune 500 companies to make a difference for by providing employee autism insurance, even when it is not legally required. We hope one day soon it will be commonplace for every insurance plan in the United States to have coverage for autism. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Note: Autism Light is a neutral blog and the author of this blog post received no goods or services for writing this. While the author is a customer of Chase Bank, that relationship started prior to the company offering this autism benefit in their health plan.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Toni Braxton

Autism Light #332 is Toni Braxton. 

Toni Braxton is 46 years old and from Beverly Hills, California. Toni Braxton is a singer and actress and an autism mother. Her youngest son Diezel, who is now 9, has autism. Toni Braxton is an Autism Light for her advocacy for autism and her dedication as an autism mother.

Toni Braxton is an "American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Braxton has won 6 Grammy Awards, 7 American Music Awards and 9 Billboard Music Awards. Throughout the years, she has sold over 66 million records worldwide (Wikipedia, Toni Braxton, 1/6/2013) ."

In 2011 Toni Braxton told OK Magazine this about how she reacted to becoming an autism mother.
It’s been rewarding to see how he’s grown, but I remember when I first found out. I remember blaming myself; I thought it was my fault. I wish I knew what triggered it. Still, often, as a mom, I blame myself. I didn’t take my vitamins every day … maybe it was the medications I was on before I got pregnant.” 
They haven’t figured out what triggers it, but whatever it is, I don’t care, find a cure. Help my kid; help all the other kids. But I had to shake myself off, and go ‘enough about me,’ and make sure my kid’s OK. Once they diagnosed him, we were able to itemize the issues (Toni Braxton, OK Magazine, April 4, 2011).
Autism Speaks: The following is the Ad Council spot that Toni Braxton did for Autism Speaks.

Lupus: Three years ago Toni Braxton revealed that she has the autoimmune disease, Lupus (Essence, November 18, 2010). Toni Braxton said, "My doctors told me I would never be able to perform again. I'm very lucky that I'm still able to dabble in it a little bit (USA Today, February 6, 2013)." In addition to advocating for autism awareness, Toni Braxton helps raise awareness about Lupus.

Braxton Family Values: Toni Braxton stars in the reality television show called Braxton Family Values that airs on WE TV.  Braxton Family Values has been on the air since 2011.

Twist of Faith: Toni Braxton starred with David Julian Hirsch in the Lifetime TV movie Twist of Faith that aired on February 9, 2013. Toni's autistic son Diezel made his acting debut with a role in Twist of Faith with his mother. Here is a scene from the movie where she sings her song This Very Moment. 

Singer: Toni Braxton is known as one of the greatest R&B singers of all time. Dominique Carson at the Celebrity Cafe wrote an informative article on Toni Braxton's Top Ten Songs of All-Time that includes links to song videos on YouTube where available (The Celebrity Cafe, Top 10 Toni Braxton Songs, March 8, 2013)

The following is a message about autism by Toni Braxton at a Hollywood event sponsored by Lindt of Switzerland.

More Information: For more information on Toni Braxton visit her website at or check out the Toni Braxton Wikipedia Page.

Social Media: You can follow Toni Braxton on the following social media areas. There are over 1 million followers of her verified Twitter account. 
Special thanks for Toni Braxton for being an Autism Light and using her celebrity status to be an advocate for autism. Her talent as a musician/entertainer is without question, and it is all the more remarkable as she balances that with being an autism mother who has Lupus. We look forward to hearing more amazing things from Toni Braxton in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo of Toni Braxton is in the Public Domain

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Trent Altman

Autism Light #331 is Trent Altman.

Trent Altman is 35 years old and lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Trent Altman is an abstract, expressionistic artist who has autism. Trent has gained international attention for his outstanding talent in art. His work in art is enabling Trent Altman to earn money and support himself. Trent Altman is an Autism Light for how work is helping spread autism awareness and providing inspiring art for people to enjoy.

2012 United Nations Award: Trent Altman's painting Abstract Garden II was chosen to be on a special United Nations postage stamp in a series in honor of World Autism Awarness Day 2012. He was one of two artists with autism selected from the United States and one of eight artists selected from around the world. 1 million of the stamps were printed by the United Nations Postal Administration (Trent's Studio Website).

Genius of Autism Honoree: In 2012 Trent Altman was one of the New York City McCarton Foundation Award Honorees at the 2nd Annual Genius of Autism event on October 22, 2012. Another artist with autism being honored at the 2012 event was Stephen Wiltshire, who was Autism Light #36. Dr. Jacquelyn Marquette, Trent's mother, wrote a blog post for the Art of Autism on his experiences at the event (The Art of Autism, March 27, 2013).

The following is a news story by WHAS11 on Trent Altman's art. In addition to being an artist Trent Altman has made the amazing transition to living independently with supports.

Trent's Studio: Trent Altman's work has been used by non profits, churches, autism conferences and universities such as the University of Louisville. For more information on Trent's honors and awards with his art visit his website called Trent's Studio at His website has detailed information about his art.

The following is a news story that Kentucky Life did on Trent Altman in 2013.

Social Media: You can follow Trent Altman at the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Trent Altman for being an Autism Light. Trent's artwork has a profound beauty to it and is an inspiration to those who follow the achievements of some individuals with autism.  We look forward to hearing more exciting things about Trent and his artwork in the future. For more information on artists with autism visit the Autism Light Art page.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Chelsea Stepp

Autism Light #330 is Chelsea Stepp.

Chelsea Stepp is a 21 year old pop singer and songwriter from Warfield, Kentucky. Chelsea's youngest sister Cammi has autism and she wrote the song Beautiful Blessing in her honor. Chelsea Stepp has been chosen as the first Autism Light for the year 2014, because of her dedication to her relationship with her sibling with autism and her amazing talent in music that is spreading autism awareness.

Here is an interview that Chelsea Stepp did about autism and her admiration for her sister Cammi as it relates to her song Beautiful Blessing.

Paper Airplane: Chelsea Stepp released her first music album on September 1, 2013 called Paper Airplane. Paper Airplanes includes 8 songs, including Beautiful Blessing.  You can purchase her album on iTunes or at Amazon.

Here is the song that Chelsea Stepp sings called Beautiful Blessing. It was inspired by her younger sister who has autism and cowrote with Britton Cameron. The refrain includes these words.

Beautiful blessing, beautiful curse
Things could be better, but things could be worse
Give me your heaven, give me your hurt
Beautiful blessing, beautiful curse

Two special comments and tributes to Chelsea Stepp's song came from autism mothers by way of social media.
Website: To learn more about Chelsea Stepp visit her website at
Social Media: You can follow Chelsea Stepp on the following social media areas.

If you enjoyed this post you may wish to read about the other Autism Lights with the label Siblings. These people share the special perspective in their story of having a sibling with autism.

Special thanks to Chelsea Stepp for being an Autism Light. Chelsea's music is a blessing to many and the doors her music opens to her for autism advocacy is an inspiration to the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.