Friday, October 17, 2014

Boyce Coleman

Autism Light #361 is Boyce Coleman.

Boyce "Scoop" Coleman is from Yonkers, New York and died on September 7, 2014, when he went into the Hudson River to rescue a 6 year old boy named Stephen Jones, who has autism. Boyce Coleman drowned in the Hudson River shortly after he handed Stephen Jones safely to another adult. We honor Boyce Coleman for giving his life to save Stephen Jones. Boyce Coleman will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

On September 7, 2014, Boyce Coleman had been near the water at JFK Marina and Park in Yonkers for a family reunion. Boyce Coleman jumped into the murky waters of the Hudson River to save Stephen Jones, when he heard that that a boy with autism had went into the river.

In Boyce Coleman's obituary it was said,
Boyce Coleman, 43, of Yonkers, New York died heroically on Sunday, September 7, 2014 as he saved the life of another. Boyce (Scoop) Coleman was born in Yonkers, NY on August 27, 1971. He was known for his bigger than life personality, tremendous generosity, and warm heart. Family and friends alike were blessed many times over by his giving spirit. Scoop adored his two daughters, spending quality time with his family and friends, sports, cooking, and indulging in the finer luxuries of life. On the day that he surrendered his life to save another, he truly demonstrated the characteristics that made him who he was (Boyce Coleman Obituary).
Obituary: You can read his full obituary at Dignity Memorial.

More Information: The following stories have more information on the heroism and passing of Boyce Coleman.

We are grateful to Boyce Coleman for caring about a boy with autism enough to risk his life for him. Our thoughts are with the family of Boyce Coleman. May the example that Boyce Coleman set inspire others to go the second mile to help those with autism who have issues with their safety.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dwayne Ballen

Autism Light #360 is Dwayne Ballen. 

Dwayne Ballen is an autism father from Durham, North Carolina. He is the owner of Ballen Media and a journalist and sports announcer.  Dwayne Ballen wrote the book "Journey with Julian" about his lessons of raising a son with autism. Dwane Ballen is an Autism Light for how he spreads autism awareness through both his memoirs as an autism father and as he speaks to groups about autism.

Dwayne Ballen's book "Journey with Julian" is an account of a father observing the world through the eyes of his son growing up with autism. Dwayne Ballen said, "I watched the world through Julian's eyes, and it was a marvel. And at times, it was a heartache (, Father's Memoir Offers Lesson on Raising Son with Autism)."

Dwayne Ballen expresses how he feels as an autism father in this way, "People with special needs have much to offer us. I hope I'm a better person for having Julian. I hope I'm a better father. But one thing is certain, my life is better for having been Julian's father (Franklin Porter Graham Child Development Institute, April 23, 2014)."

Journey with Julian:  Dwayne Ballen's book "Journey with Julian" was released in April, 2013. You can read posts that eventually were put into the book at Dwayne Ballen's blog at and order the book through Amazon. This is the video where Dwayne Ballen explains why he wrote his book "Journey with Julian."

Sports Announcer:  Garden District Book Shop in their promotion of "Journey with Julian" says, "Dwayne Ballen is a television journalist whose broadcast résumé includes CBS Sports, the ESPN networks, the Golf Channel, Fox Sports, USA Network and TNT's NBA Playoffs coverage. He has been a contributor to NPR and the Fox News Channel (Garden District Book Shop, May 17, 2013)."

More Information: The following articles highlight some of the ways in which Dwayne Ballen spreads autism awareness.

Here is a video of Dwayne Ballen being the color commentator for a past college basketball game.

Social Media: To learn more about Dwayne Ballen view his LinkedIn page.

Special thanks to Dwayne Ballen for raising autism awareness through giving the world his memoirs in "Journey with Julian". The perspective that Dwayne Ballen brings as an autism father is a gift to the autism community. We wish Dwayne and Julian all the best in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Johnny Orr

Autism Light #359 is Johnny Orr. 

The Johnny Orr Band Autism SongJohnny Orr is a country singer and recording artist from Raleigh, North Carolina. He is the lead vocalist for The Johnny Orr Band. Johnny Orr wrote the words to the song We'll Get By (The Autism Song) which was released by The Johnny Orr Band in April 1, 2014 for Autism Awareness Month. Johnny Orr is an Autism Light for giving to the world the song We'll Get By (The Autism Song). Johnny Orr will be listed today on the Autism Light Music page along with others who have given us autism awareness music over the years at Autism Light.  

Johnny Orr started The Johnny Orr Band in 2007.  "Johnny's been on CMT's Big Break with Sara Evans, was a finalist for Nashville Star, has opened for Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, Gretchen Wilson, LeAnn Rimes, Josh Gracin, Josh Thompson, Jeff Bates, Phil Vassar, and many more (Facebook Page for The Johnny Orr Band)." Read more about Johnny Orr at his official website at

The following is the official video on Johnny Orr's song We'll Get By. The song is part of The Johnny Orr Band's album "Down South" which can be purchased on iTunes.

The following video gives the inspiring story of how Johnny Orr was led to write We'll Get By (The Autism Song) after being asked to write an autism song by a friend on Facebook who has two twin sons who deal with autism everyday. Johnny Orr didn't know much about autism at the time but he waited for about a year until an idea for the song came to him and he did research to better understand autism.

Social Media: You can follow Johnny Orr on the following social media areas.

Special thanks to Johnny Orr for writing We'll Get By (The Autism Song). It is an inspiration and benefit to the autism community to have talented recording artists helping raise awareness through their gift of music. To book Johnny Orr call Chris Keaton at 615-313-7211. We wish The Johnny Orr Band all the best as they continue to entertain more and more fans around the world with their music.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post of Johnny Orr was used with permission of Johnny Orr.

This post is dedicated to my wife Anne Stokes on her birthday. She loves North Carolina and country music.  She is a wonderful autism mother. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thula the Cat

Autism Light #358 is Thula the Cat.

Thula is a one year old Maine Coon Cat who lives in Market Horborough, England in the United Kingdom. Thula is a therapy cat to a 5 year old girl with autism named Iris Grace Halmshaw. The story of Iris Grace Halmshaw was originally featured at Autism Light in July of 2013 when she was named Autism Light #285.  Thula is an Autism Light for the way in which she helps serve as an autism therapy cat to Iris Grace. Thula helps young Iris Grace to overcome anxiety in social situations and cope with everyday routines such as getting her hair washed.

Petango writes this about the Maine Coon Cat breed, which is the official cat of the State of Maine in the United States.
Unlike some other people-oriented cat breeds, Maine coon cats are not overly dependent on their human family. Instead of pestering you for attention, they will remain close by for companionship. Not usually “lap cats,” they prefer to sit beside you instead of on top of you. Maine coon cats make great buddies for kids and generally socialize well with other pets (Petango).
Arbella Carter-Johnson, Iris' mother, told Bored Panda, "Thula has lowered [Iris'] daily anxieties in life and keeps Iris calm, but equally has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She will talk more to Thula, saying little phrases like 'sit cat (Bored Panda).'"

Online Resources: You can read more about the heartwarming friendship between Thula the cat and Iris Grace in these online articles.

Special thanks to Thula for being an Autism Light and helping Iris Grace Halmshaw in her life with autism. Without a doubt some of the amazing things that Iris Grace Halmshaw is able to do with her painting would not be possible without the devotion of her therapy cat Thula on her side. If you want to read about other cats at Autism Light you can search for them with the label "Cat".

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.