AMAR club recognizes Autism awareness day

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The club will host a booth at Any Baby Can’s 11th annual Walk for Autism April 18.

By R.Eguia

Club AMAR distributed blue ribbons in the mall April 2, National Autism Awareness day.

AMAR is an acronym for the first names of Ann Marie Hessbrook, president and founder of the club; Mariano Bula, a former student at this college who is autistic; Avonte Oquendo; and Michelle R. Garza, the club adviser.

The club was established spring 2014 when Hessbrook worked on a speech project with Bula about Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy who died after running away from his school where he was not properly being watched.

The New York Times published Avonte’s story March 27, 2014, headlined, ‘Report Says Mother Warned Queens School to Watch Autistic Boy,’ by Al Baker.

Avonte’s family said he had been diagnosed with severe autism at a young age and required special supervision because of his tendency to run off.

Video surveillance from his school revealed that he did just that Oct. 4, 2013, when he ran through an open, unattended gate at Riverview High School during a passing period between classes.

In mid-January 2014, Avonte’s remains washed up in pieces, on the shoreline off College Point in northern Queens, N.Y. Read the full story at .

Former student Bula is a higher functioning autistic student who was placed in Hessbrook’s speech group to formulate an informative speech.

Upon working with Mariano, Hesbrook said she learned about his negative on-campus experiences and was outraged.

She wrote an informative speech about autism and aced the presentation.

“Since then, it’s become a passion to educate as many people as possible about the wonderful individuals who have autism,” Hessbrook said.

She asked Garza to be the adviser for the club and established AMAR last spring.

The club will host a booth at Any Baby Can’s 11th annual walk for autism and Superhero 5K April 18 at the AT&T Center.

The Student Service Fee Advisory Committee will pay for up to 20 students from this college to participate in the event.

Students can contact Hessbrook to register for sponsorship to participate in the Fiesta event for autism awareness.

At Any Baby Can’s annual Walk for Autism club members will wear new T-shirts, hand out fliers with QR codes, promotional items such as pens, lanyards and flyers, and sell non-perishables for fundraising.

Registration for the 2-mile Walk for Autism costs $15 or $20 at event, registration for the Super Hero 5K costs $20 or $25 at event gate.

General admission costs $10 and can only be purchased at the event gate.

Only cash will be accepted at the gate.

All proceeds will stay in the community to support families raising children with autism and other special healthcare needs and to support families who have lost a child.


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