Yampa Valley Autism Program’s 7th annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball returns Saturday | SteamboatToday.com
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Yampa Valley Autism Program’s 7th annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball returns Saturday

If You Go...

What: Yampa Valley Autism Program’s 7th Annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball


When: 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, March 7

Where: Colorado Mountain College, NEAS Dining Atrium

Tickets: Tickets are $70 in advance and $75 at the door or VIP tickets are $90 in advance and $95 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at All That with cash or check only or online at yampavalleyautism.org.





Lu Etta Loeber and Lisa Lorenz, supporters of the Yampa Valley Autism Program gathered for the local nonprofit’s inaugural Masquerade Ball last year. This year marks the 7th annual event, benefitting services and programs provided by the Autism Program.

— Masks and autism are more similar than one may think.

“Autism is still something that many parents may not understand right away,” said Babette Dickson, volunteer who is also part of the founding group of mothers who started the Yampa Valley Autism Program. “It masks the faces of who these kids really are. But once you take that mask down, you start to know who they are, and you begin to understand.”

It’s just one of the many reasons why Dickson plans to attend YVAP’s annual “Unmasking Autism” Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball fundraiser that will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the Colorado Mountain College NEAS Dining Atrium. Entertainment for the event will include the Johnny O Band, dancing, live performers, drawings, a costume contest, Cajun cuisine and a live auction.



If You Go…

What: Yampa Valley Autism Program’s 7th Annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball


When: 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, March 7



Where: Colorado Mountain College, NEAS Dining Atrium

Tickets: Tickets are $70 in advance and $75 at the door or VIP tickets are $90 in advance and $95 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at All That with cash or check only or online at yampavalleyautism.org.

Aside from the entertainment, the event is meant to bring families together in celebration of their successes and challenges.

Dickson is a parent of a son with autism. She said that without the help and support of the Yampa Valley Autism Program for the past 15 years, her family wouldn’t be where it is today.

“It’s crucial,” Dickson said about the speech pathology and local support she received via YVAP. “Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to pay for the services needed for him, and my son’s abilities would have regressed because whatever gain they make they can loose it if you don’t continue consistent practices or routines.”

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.

Now, more than ever, these rates are dramatically increasing, which requires specialized services on a regular basis, YVAP Executive Director Lisa Lorenz explained.

“What is consistent between all kids with autism is that they have similar challenges, just varying degrees, but they also have amazing talents and gifts that are sometimes hard to see or find,” Lorenz said.

Autism is often deceiving due in part to the levels of intelligence that range from almost genius to cognitive deficits, Lorenz said. Kids with autism are often perceived and treated as if they have limited understanding.

Proceeds from the Mardi Gras Ball go directly toward services and support for children with autism and families in need.

Those services include programs like the social cognition program, a work-ready community cultivation program; the STRIDES Transition Program for 18- to 21-year-olds; the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) treatment therapy program, which reimburses families for respite care; scholarship programs; education resources featuring speakers and workshops; and emergency financial and family support. Recently, YVAP formed an Inclusive Workforce Coalition and also plans on sponsoring a training event March 13 with first responders and law enforcement on how to approach individuals with autism.

“Our commitment is to maximize their potential and help them find ways to bring their gifts to light,” Lorenz said.

Last year, close to $40,000 was raised with over 325 people in attendance at the sold-out event.

Tickets, which include all food and drinks, are $70 in advance and $75 at the door. VIP tickets are $90 in advance and $95 at the door and include access to the VIP lounge with exotic cuisine, a premium bar, champagne and reserved priority seating.

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


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