My friend Mallory has a very distinct tattoo. Making the mark stand-out above other body art seen inked on a 20-something-year-old is her design: a puzzle piece. Yes — a blue one at that — in the middle of her forearm.
One day my curiosity won out over etiquette and I asked Mallory what was up with her blue tattoo. She said the puzzle piece is the symbol of autism, and that the tattoo was meant to spark conversation about the disorder. You see, her brother Clay was diagnosed as autistic at the age of 21.
Mallory went on to describe her personal battles growing up with an older brother who was different. The way Clay’s behavior would become disruptive, to the point of violence, over a change of dinner plans. How an episode like that would usually end with him bursting into tears, she said. You can read the rest of Mallory’s incredibly compelling story chronicled online.
The girl with the blue tattoo continued to peak my curiosity long after our conversation ended. With a quick Google search, I found that nationwide the Centers for Disease Control estimate about 1 in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder. However, in Huntsville the rate is even higher: approximately 1 in 68.
I also found that April is autism awareness month and that a local group has put together a 5K walk to raise money for the cause.
Considering the disproportionate rate of autism in Huntsville, I felt called to help both my friend Mallory and the greater Huntsville community. And who better to lend a hand than The Huntsville Young Professionals? The group has a Community Involvement arm, which quickly made the decision to support the Autism Society of Alabama’s annual walk this year.
Want to Help with The Walk for Autism?
While the Huntsville Young Professionals have committed to supporting the walk on April 13th the Autism Society of Alabama still needs you. There are four ways you can help:
Every month, the Autism Society of Alabama helps approximately 600 individuals with autism spectrum disorders right here in Alabama. Mallory has already raised nearly $750. You can help her reach her goal of $1,000 by visiting her donation page and giving.
Enjoy working with children? Are you okay with greeting people as they enter the walk? Don’t mind handing out pizza? There is a need for nearly 100 volunteers to make the walk a success, and slots are available during a range of time periods all weekend.
The deadline to sign-up is Wednesday, April 3rd. You can sign up to volunteer here.
Tell a family member, a co-worker, and a complete stranger. Blast it out on Facebook and Twitter. Or heck, depending on your level of commitment, you too could get a blue tattoo.
Do the walk on Saturday, April 13. Registration for the Huntsville Walk is $30 per adult. Included in the price are a commemorative t-shirt, pizza, popcorn, and activities for children like bounce houses, crafts, face painting, and balloons.
- Location: Hampton Cove Elementary / Middle School
- Address: 261 Old Highway 431, Huntsville 35763
- Time: 8:30 am
- April 3: Deadline To Volunteer
- April 13: The Walk
- April 30: End FirstGiving.org donations
The Autism Society of Alabama (ASA) has been active for a decade. Each month the group aids about 600 individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their parents, and their service providers. The ASA receives funding through grants, donations and fundraising activities like the walk.
- Find the Autism Society of Alabama on Facebook
- Follow the Autism Society of Alabama on Twitter
- Visit the Autism Society of Alabama’s website
Huntsville Young Professionals (HYP) is a community of professionals in their 20s to mid-40s across Madison County. Their mission is to foster relationship-building, career development, entrepreneurial endeavors, and civic involvement among young professionals. The HYP vision is to empower members to be leaders both in business and the local community.