Monday, March 26, 2012

2 Eggstra Fun Easter Egg Hunts in Vancouver for those with Autism and/or Other Special Needs

Hello Aspierations Friends!

Last year I shared on my blog two Easter Egg hunts for kids and young adults with special needs in the Greater Vancouver, WA / Portland, OR Metro area.

Our sons had a great time at both events. Happy kids make for happy parents.
This year, since Autism Empowerment is now up and running and has 501(c)(3) status, we're happy to say that we're personally involved in TWO great Easter Egg hunting events for kiddos with autism, Asperger's and/or ANY special needs.

The first event:

What: Eggstreme Egg Hunt

When: Saturday, April 7th, 2012 at your choice of 9:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.  
Cost: FREE

Who: Ages 2 years old through 5th grade

Where: LifePoint Church - 305 NE 192nd Avenue, Vancouver, WA 98684
(360) 892-7100

Details: Open to all abilities. This is the 3rd year that there will be a separate section each session designated for students with specials needs, including those who are in wheelchairs. There is a specific flat grassy area at the church where the egg hunt will be held. 

The main egg hunt should you choose not to participate in the special needs section is broken down by age and is held in the back field behind the church. Please note there is some uneven terrain.

For those who enjoy them, there are also Awesome Inflatables.

My husband and I are working with Donna to volunteer at this event. For additional information, contact Donna Schaefer at

The second event is Autism Empowerment's signature event at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 7th, 2012! This is the egg hunt which was organized and run last year by Don and the Multnomah County Corrections Deputies Charitable Trust. Don is passing the torch to us this year. The great news is that he, Nancy and a number of past attendees will be volunteering and helping us host! 

Here are the details below:

Autism Empowerment is EGG-CITED to host our:
1st Annual Special Needs Easter Egg Hunt


Who May Attend? - Open to eggstra special children of all ages with ANY special needs (not just autism / Asperger's) looking to have FUN! We also will have an additional hunt for siblings / friends right afterwards.

How much - FREE !!!
Donations appreciated but not required.  We are a 501(c) nonprofit public charity. Tax ID #45-2455219.

Where - McKenzie Stadium - 2205 NE 138th Ave Vancouver, WA 98684 - behind Evergreen High School. Wheelchair and walker accessible. Bring an easter basket or bag to collect eggs!

When - 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday, April 7th, 2012 - Rain or Shine! Prepare for eggcitement! The event should start at about 4 p.m. but of course flexibility is always appreciated! We expect the first hunt to last about 15 minutes or so and that will include those with special needs only and their caregivers. We will then do a quick clean-up and have a separate hunt afterwards for siblings and friends.
Special Guest:  The Easter Bunny has been invited for an eggstra special guest appearance!  Tammy Fraley from Fraley Photography will be available for optional professional pictures or you may bring your own camera.
Contact Information: John via email or by phone: (360) 852-8369  
VOLUNTEERS Needed & welcome! We are also looking for sponsors / partners! If you know of anyone who would like to support the Egg Hunt, please let us know!
**Special Note: A very similar Egg Hunt was run at McKenzie Stadium for many years by Don and the Multnomah County Corrections Deputies Charitable Trust. The MCCDCT group is no longer in operations, however we are working directly with Don, Nancy and a number of their amazing volunteers. Don is graciously lending his expertise, resources and talent to this year's Egg Hunt. Don will be on hand as a Master of Ceremonies and to officially "pass the torch" to Autism Empowerment.
Pre-register at this link (not required but greatly appreciated as it will give us an idea how many to expect and how many eggs to prepare!)

SPECIAL THANKS to our Volunteers & Community Partners!  We plan to be hosting many future events and programs and can always use volunteers, donations and fund-raising help!

We also could not do this without Don Bryant from the Multnomah County Corrections Deputies Charitable Trust, Nancy Quarles, her 3 amazing children and extended family and so many others. We appreciate everyone who has offered to volunteer so far.
Thank you also in advance to the following community partners:
Fraley Photography - Tammy Fraley - photography and financial donation


Learning Palace - Easter Egg Hunt donation

Markon Signs and Decals - banner donation

Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza - pizza donation (prizes for Egg Hunt)
6715 Northeast 63rd Street, Vancouver, WA  98661
Vancouver Family Magazine - magazine / literature bag donation

So, Aspierations friends, if you're looking for an eggstraordinary day filled with egg-citement and eggstra special fun, mark Saturday, April 7th on your calendar and come join the hunts!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guest Blog: Congratulations to Karen of Autism Empowerment

I'm guest blogging for Karen today. I know she announced this on her earlier blog but I wanted to share how proud I am of her.  This blog was originally posted at my Autism and Scouting Blog. 

Congratulations to Karen of Autism Empowerment 

Hello All,

I know many of you were expecting to see the last two parts in the series of blogs on Separation vs. Inclusion vs. Integration. Instead, I have a special announcement I would like to make.

We received confirmation late last week that Karen was chosen to receive an award called the Distinguished Spectrumite Medal (DSM) from a national Asperger’s & Autism Spectrum non-profit advocacy organization called GRASP (The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership). GRASP has 26 Chapters both in the US and in Canada from California to New Hampshire, has thousands of members and is a powerful voice within the Autism and Asperger communities.

This year, the DSM Award has a special parenting component that recognizes inspirational and accomplished parents who are on the autism spectrum.  Karen was chosen to receive this special award for the success she has had in a variety of areas as a woman with Asperger’s.  This includes being an inspirational mother to two sons who are also on the autism spectrum. She loves them dearly and advocates for them daily. The Distinguished Spectrumite Medal award also takes into consideration the success she has had throughout her life as an entrepreneur in business as well as her risk-taking and sensory-filled adventures as a touring athlete on the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour.

Karen is also a huge advocate for individuals of all ages and stages on the autism spectrum and co-founded Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2011. She also regularly blogs in a compassionate, humorous and thought-provoking way about important and personal issues that impact the autism & Asperger’s communities. She is not afraid to be real and raw about her life’s experiences in order to reach out and touch her fellow autism spectrum travelers.

Karen founded Autism Empowerment in the middle of June of 2011 based on the four foundational pillars of Accept, Enrich, Inspire and Empower. These foundational pillars are listed on the Autism Empowerment website but I wanted to include them below as well.

Accept - We strongly promote the unconditional acceptance of those on the autism spectrum and with related disorders. This includes self-acceptance and social acceptance. By accepting each spectrum traveler for who they are, where they are in the present moment, we are promoting both autism acceptance and autism awareness.

Enrich - Our goal is to provide educational resources, programs and tools to improve and enhance life skills for those on the autism spectrum as well as their families, caregivers, therapists and teachers. We aspire to make life more meaningful and rewarding.  

Inspire - We dedicate ourselves to be a positive and uplifting organization that encourages. promotes and celebrates success in all individuals. We believe each person on the autism spectrum has the opportunity to make a positive difference in this world.

Empower - We strive to empower those on the autism spectrum to achieve their highest quality of life academically, emotionally, financially, socially and spiritually.
aeiepuzzle.jpgAll of the programs of Autism Empowerment have roots in these four foundational pillars.  Autism and Scouting, Autism Empowerment’s Access to the Arts, Autism Empowerment Let Your Light Shine and the Autism Empowerment Support Network are just a few of the programs of Autism Empowerment.

I know that Karen is humbled by the honor and filled with Grace to be in the same company as author, professor and speaker, Dr. Stephen Shore (award winner from 2009) who is famously known throughout the autism community for coining the saying, “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism”, Scientist John Elder Robinson (2010) for his work in Science and author, inventor and speaker (you may have also seen the HBO movie about her), Temple Grandin (2011).  Karen will be traveling to New York City in May to receive the medal at the May 15th awards ceremony.

****Congratulations to Karen and Autism Empowerment***

John Krejcha
Vice President of Operations
Autism Empowerment

GRASP's Distinguished Spectrumite Medal for 2012 goes to...

Hello Aspierations Friends!

I have some very exciting and quite humbling news to share with you today!  

No, that isn't the news, but it is me posing at the 6th Annual Children's Festival in Vancouver, WA with our new Autism Empowerment banner donated to us by Kristine Kemp of  Markon Signs and Decals. Thank you, Kristine!

Here is the news!

An excerpt is below...

Dear Karen:
As you may know, at GRASP's annual fundraising event, we bestow three awards, the Friend and Benefactor Award (the FAB), the Divine Neurotypical Award (the DNA), and the Distinguished Spectrumite Medal (the DSM). This year, however, the Board decided to go with multiple honorees for the DSM. The theme was parenting. As the world seems more and more satisfied that an individual on the autism spectrum may inhibit competency, if not extreme talent for careers, it feels as though we can now make a move away from ideas of cerebral brilliance. GRASP feels it is time to begin the slow process of teaching the world that the emotional strength and organizational accountability necessary in parenting are also possible in the life of an individual on the spectrum. For this year's recipient of the GRASP DSM, we want several top-notch parents.
Based on testimonials and follow-up, we have selected you to be one of our winners of this year's DSM.  
The event will be held in New York City, at the William Bennett Gallery on May 15, 2012 from 6:30-8:30 or 9:00.

..... (more interesting personal stuff here)
Thank you for being a wonderful parent, not only for your children, but also as an example to others of what we are capable of.

Michael John Carley
Executive Director
The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, Inc.
666 Broadway, Suite 825
New York, NY 10012
p + f = 1.888.474.7277 (1.888.47.GRASP)

How exciting, Aspierations friends!  I am truly blown away to not only have been nominated but to have been chosen among my peers. I want to thank my husband, John Krejcha for his love, support and partnership. He isn't on the spectrum himself but being around 3 of us in the family who are, he should have his own medal as well! 

The last three winners of the Distinguished Spectrumite Award were Temple Grandin (2011), John Elder Robison (2010) and Dr. Stephen Shore (2009).  If you are familiar with respected individuals in the autism community, then you will understand why I feel so grateful to have blessed with this honor.  

John and I will be traveling to New York City in May to accept the medal and enjoy the festivities!  The last time I was in New York City was back in the late 1990s.  It was at a time when I used travel across the country competing as a touring athlete on the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour.  

Yes... a female Aspie with oodles of sensory issues who bowled professionally... yikes!  The stories I could tell... a book may soon be forthcoming!

One of those little tidbits was that I used to drive back and forth across the country by myself to get from event to event.  Sometimes I had a traveling partner, my friend and tour roommate, Stephanie Chiera (who just bowled a 300 again yesterday, woo hoo Thumper!!)  Since she was from MA and I was from CA at the time, a lot of my driving was still alone and this first time driving through New York City on my way to Long Island was one of those times.

It was nighttime when I made it into New York City.  I got very lost. This was before GPS... oh if I only had one of those then!!! I remember the streets of New York City were very bright.  The cabs honking (at me) were overwhelming.  I don't think when I saw their hands shaking at me it was in delight and joy...  It was an adventure for sure!

Now I will be traveling back to NYC again, this time with John.  I think we'll take a cab...

I am so very humbled to receive this special honor and I will do Autism Empowerment proud and bring our accepting, enriching, inspiring and empowering spirit across the nation!

There are SO many people and so many parents that in the autism community who are absolutely amazing.  I look forward to meeting with Michael John Carley, GRASP's Executive Director and many GRASP members whose books grace my shelves.  It will be a delight to have the opportunity to share about Autism Empowerment on the East Coast and to bring the four foundational pillars of Autism Empowerment to New York City. 

and while you're there, I also have a new FB Aspierations page that could use some support!

More on this upcoming adventure later!

It's going to be amazing to let my light shine in New York!