Local event to support National Autism Awareness Day Thursday | SteamboatToday.com
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Local event to support National Autism Awareness Day Thursday





Natural Grocers in Steamboat Springs recently presented the Yampa Valley Autism Program with a check for $1,318, which represents a percentage of the store’s total sales on National Autism Awareness Day, April 2. Tony Willemse, store manager, made the check presentation this past week to Lisa Lorenz, new executive director of YVAP. Also pictured are Natural Grocers nutrition coach Alicia McLeod, Jessica Reagon, Diane Maltby, Lorelei Ernst, Amanda Anzalone, Lu Etta Loeber, Betsy White, Holly Nelson, Jack Dysart, Ian White, Denise English, Kim Vogel, Don Vogel, Jack English, Sawyer Lorenz and Jim Lorenz as well as several other members of the Natural Grocers staff and YVAP clients and families.


— The Steamboat Springs community will have the opportunity to support a local and national cause Thursday.

In 2008, April 2 was designated World Autism Awareness Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Around the world parades are held, the Empire State Building’s top floors light up and the color of blue is seen as a message.

“We hope people can have a better of understanding about autism and how it can enhance and improve the lives of youth and adults,” said Lisa Lorenz, executive director of the Yampa Valley Autism Program.



Autism, a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3, affects one in 68 children nationally. In the Yampa Valley, the incidence of autism is slightly higher than the national average.

The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is an initiative intended to raise international awareness for autism, and in Steamboat Springs, World Autism Awareness Day will be celebrated with the help of Natural Grocers.



On Thursday, 5 percent of all sales at Natural Grocers in Steamboat will go to the Yampa Valley Autism Program. There will also be a seminar offered at 4:30 p.m. titled, “The Nutrition-Autism Connection” hosted by nutritional health coach Alicia McLeod. In addition, the community is asked to wear blue in support of the Light It Up Blue campaign.

Last year was the first time Natural Grocers supported Autism Awareness Day and nearly $3,000 was raised for the local nonprofit.

“Support is the bottom line, and we are glad to be part of a bigger movement to bring awareness to autism,” McLeod said. “People need to know that there is a hub of resources here, and they don’t have do it alone.”

Her seminar will include information on the latest research on the connections between autism and nutrition. There will also be a discussion about the steps families can take with their food choices to support the management of symptoms.

Next year, Lorenz said YVAP plans to have its annual fundraiser event on April 2 and the group is in the process of trying to gett the Blue Man Group as the featured entertainment.

“Autism awareness is not just about inclusiveness but also appreciation and understanding that people with autism have tremendous values and gifts that it becomes a win-win for everybody,” Lorenz said.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1


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