Operation Orange – How Far Will I Go to Raise Money for Autistic Children?

Dear Friends,

I want to do something, shall we say, ‘colorful’ to help autistic children in Raleigh, but I can’t do it without you.

Let me explain. This past summer was the J-Man’s first camp experience at Camp G.R.A.C.E. (Growth, Recognition, Achievement, Character, Encouragement) at our local YMCA. Neither we nor our J-Man knew what to expect. He and I went together to the front door both nervous, but they greeted him like an old, dear friend. They went out of their way to make him feel comfortable and calm, no easy feat given how anxious and fearful he can be of new situations. They showed him respect and patience and helped him work through that uncertainty for as long as it took.

Going to camp is a rite of passage for so many children. Camp G.R.A.C.E. gives our children with special needs an opportunity to build social skills and confidence and have many of the same camp experiences other children do, an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have if the YMCA and those amazing counselors weren’t there.

I knew the J-Man had found a new home there the first morning of the second week when he walked right in on his own after having spent the first week working up the courage to do so. He came home that afternoon with the Camper of the Day award for having such an awesome day at camp. He may be unable to tell us with words how he feels, but he still finds ways to share that with us.

On the final day of camp, Mary and I came to the awards day. Each group at Camp G.R.A.C.E. stood up, and the counselors for that group gave a special award to each camper. They did that day what the best people who work with our kids do – they see the amazing gifts our kids have, and they celebrate them. They honored our J-Man with the Pint-Size Picasso Award for exemplary artistic skills during camp, particularly his lavish use of the color orange. These are folks who get it.

Oh, and remember the color orange. You’ll see why in a minute.

But providing the supports and staff necessary for the camp costs money. Camp G.R.A.C.E. provides extra assistance and accommodations to our children because of their needs, and even after so many generously volunteer their time and resources, it takes funding to create and staff a camp with highly-trained counselors to address these needs. Camp G.R.A.C.E. does everything possible to keep costs down for families. From there, they rely on generous donors like you.

During the YMCA’s We Build People campaign, Camp G.R.A.C.E. needs to raise $18,000 to meet its goal for 2011. Your support toward that goal will mean that 37 autistic children and their families will be able to afford a camp experience next summer like our J-Man had. 100% of your donation goes directly to their youth programs and provides discounts and scholarships for autistic children to come to camp.

For many of these families, medical and therapy bills leave little, if any, money available to go toward positive experiences like Camp G.R.A.C.E. Without these scholarships, they simply can’t afford for their children to go. And this is heartbreaking.

I know right now that money is tight for everyone, but I really believe in Camp G.R.A.C.E. And I’ll do what it takes for the camp to reach its fundraising goal. My goal is to raise $2,500, and I have two weeks to do it in.

I’m prepared to do something I’ve never done before to get your support for Camp G.R.A.C.E., and I’ll do it in public in front of a few thousand people.

On November 14, right after the YMCA’s We Build People campaign ends, is the 27th Annual Old Reliable Run in Raleigh, one of the oldest and most popular 10K road races in the country. This year it’s also the Southern Regional 10K Championship, which means there will be a lot of people there.

If you help me reach my fundraising goal of $2,500, in honor of the J-Man’s Pint-Size Picasso award, I will dye my hair bright orange, get an orange running outfit, and run the 10K in front of God and Raleigh and anyone else. I’ve never done anything like that before, but I’ll do it for something, and someone, I believe in.

And yes, there will be pictures.

Now it’s your turn. I’m asking for your help in providing these amazing children with a camp experience they’ll enjoy and remember with kind and skilled counselors who value and love them, who accept and celebrate them. Every dollar makes a difference!

Time is short, and my hair is only getting grayer. Please go here for the link to make your online donation and a couple of instructions on how to get your donation credited properly. November 10th is coming fast, so please donate soon!

Yours in celebrating awesome kids everywhere,

P.S. Don’t forget to e-mail me and let me know how much you donated so I can record your donation toward the goal of $2,500! If you would rather donate by check, send me a message and I’ll give you instructions.

(P.S.)^2 – Running is also a very important part of this story. After you donate, I invite you to read my post “Today I Was Strong Enough” about the recent Autism Run 5K.

Get Both Hands and a Flashlight and
free newsletter by e-mail!

We respect your email privacy

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

JB October 27, 2010 at 7:26 pm

If we give extra, can we talk you out of the orange thing? :-)

Money headed your way —

Nancy Cummings October 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Sobha gave me a copy of this article. I’m Communications Coordinator here at the Finley Y and I think this is an amazing goal. I’d like to do what I can to help you achieve it! Would you mind if I use this as the basis for a short write-up to post around the branch? Can I use your photo from the site?

If so, that would be awesome! Let me know.
Thanks! Nancy

Tim October 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm


Thanks for stopping by! Looks like word gets out fast. :-)

Would love your help in meeting this goal! A write-up would be great. I created a shorter URL to this page if you want to include it. http://www.bothhandsandaflashlight.com/campgrace should take you directly back to this page.

There’s a photo of me and my kids together at the recent Autism Run that might be better than the others of me on this site. It’s at the bottom of the “Today I Was Strong Enough” post. If you need a bigger version, let me know.

I slightly tweaked this post since you commented, in case you already printed it out. I redacted my son’s name since I plan to make this page public to the blog shortly. I also added a bit at the very end pointing people to that same post about the Autism Run so people see why running is also such an important part of all this.

Thanks again, Nancy!! If you have questions, let me know.

John O'Connor November 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm

This is such a great cause and thanks for bringing the attention to it. I will support you. It’s personal to me – http://www.idic15.org.

Leave a Comment