The 2nd Annual Benefit for Autism
Education, Research & Advocacy
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Starting at 10 a.m.
the pair, who live in Tenafly, will visit 20 Borders Books & Music and Whole
Foods Market sites in
This is the second
road trip for Singer and Rebecca, who has a rare chromosomal abnormality and
autistic tendencies. In 2002, they drove 3,500 miles from
Borders will donate
15 percent of all purchases made at its stores in
For information or to get a coupon, visit the Singers' Web site at www.driveforrebecca.org.
- Monsy Alvarado
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
BY MICHELE HOWE
In August 2002, Jon Singer and his 7-year-old daughter, Rebecca, went on a nine-day, 3,500-mile, cross-country RV adventure.
It was far from a vacation, however. The Tenafly father-daughter team were hard at work raising money for autism research, with the goal of establishing a school for autistic children.
"Rebecca has a rare genetic disorder, with autistic tendencies," said Singer, adding that he and his wife, Michey, decided to take matters into their own hands.
"We become very frustrated with the limited availability of any public school options for children with autism," said Michey. "Our town was not ready to start a program in district."
So the Singers, both 39, got an idea.
"After looking into the disease and talking with doctors, my wife and I decided to raise money for research and to establish a school that would benefit our daughter and others like her," said Jon.
"Drive for Rebecca," took the Singers from
of us went on the fund-raising drive together," said Jon. "Rebecca,
my wife and I, our son, Sam, my cousin, Evan Cohen, and a baby-sitter to help
look after the kids. Once we got to
"People pledged what they wanted," he continued. "Some individuals pledged one cent per mile, others 10 cents, and others more depending on what they wanted to give. The same was true for the corporate donations we received."
So far, they have amassed nearly $100,000 -- about 70 percent of which was raised in 2002 and 2003," according to Jon.
"As a parent facing the challenges of raising a child with autism, research plays an important role in hopefully finding a cure or at least making the treatments so well known that they become available to everyone that needs them," said Michey. "Approximately $65,000 was been raised by friends and family for the school and approximately $30,000 for research, education and advocacy."
speaking with people from the Alpine Learning Group, the couple discovered
there were five other families in
wanted to start a school, and they did, also, so we decided to work together,
month, in an effort to raise more money, the Singers turned to Borders Books
and Music stores and Whole Foods supermarkets throughout
stores had agreed to hold different fund-raisers for us," said Jon. And
"It was wonderful," said Jon. "We raised money, gave out fliers and spread the word about autism as much as possible.
Last week, the Singers were honored by Gov. James E. McGreevey for their efforts on behalf of children with autism and related disorders.
"It was quite an honor to meet the governor. We knew that funding for autism was an important issue for him because he came to Tenafly last summer and signed a bill to fund autism research," Jon said.
(The bill, PL2003, c.144, established the "Autism Medical Research and Treatment Fund." The law went into effect on Feb. 2.)
Autism is a lifelong disability that affects communication, social and life-skills development. The cause is not known, and there is no cure. It is sometimes characterized by repetitive movements and children who seen emotionally distant from their families. At least one in every 500 Americans is affected by some form of autism, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Although Rebecca does not speak and often bangs on things and learns through constant repetitive exercises, she has made significant strides, according to her parents.
"Rebecca has started to learn the stepping stones to communicating by beginning to learn matching and imitating skills, how to ride a scooter, jump on a trampoline and roller skate. We can now, within reason, eat in a restaurant," Michey said.
"She is also learning to stop and wait and to put her clothes away instead of just standing and putting her hands in her mouth," Jon added.
Although the Singers admit they do not live what is considered a typical family life -- because their life is inundated by Rebecca, her needs, her schedule, her limitations -- they also try to give Sam a lot of special attention, said Michey.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Upcoming events for the Drive for Rebecca and organizations supported by it include:
Autism: The State Repertory Opera of New Jersey will perform Donizetti's
"Lucia di Lammermoor" at Bergen Academies in
the Stars II: A cocktail party at Loft 11 in
Copyright 2004 The Star-Ledger
Want to know how $4 can equal $1,000,000?
For updates 1) about upcoming events to help find the cause and a cure 2) with more helpful information
and 3) and to be notified of the publication of The Special Needs Caregiver Survival Guide,
send email to:
The Drive for Rebecca, Inc.