Autism Speaks: Start Listening
EF: What kind of an impact have you seen Autism Speaks make in your community?
Julie Reyes: “As the 2014 Volunteer Chairwoman for Walk Now for Autism Speaks – Tampa Bay, I have to say we have the most amazing community that supports our walk and families! This year we hosted 9,000 families and friends at Raymond James Stadium, over 40 amazing resource providers, a fun family day of celebration raising over $300K and we are still going – our year is not over!!
Our walk truly serves as a testament of the love, care, support, and compassion of our families, friends, volunteers and community partners – people coming together, unified in efforts, focused on the mission.
In addition to the walk we were also proud to honor some amazing local Autism Speaks grant award winners – Susan Richmond from the USF/Learning Academy, had won a grant in 2007 and today this organization successfully supports, mentors, and encourages young adults diagnosed with ASD as they grow and move on to college and work experiences. The Learning Academy is now a self sustaining organization and has graduated 61 young adults (75% are gainfully employed!!) 10 more students are starting this year! We were also able to recognize the Baker Summer Camp Award winners – Tampa YMCA and Freedom Sailing Camp, and 2 local grant winners for water safety.
Please, when you have a moment, take a look at the video that Great 38 created, this truly captures the magic of the day. Look into the eyes of any of our children and young adults and you will see that magic there too! Whenever you have had a bit of a rough day, watch the video to see the joy and good in this world. I venture to guess it will put a smile on your face and in your heart.
Please feel free to share this. It’s a great way to show people how incredible our event is!!”
EF: How can EverydayFamily readers donate to or support the fine work of Autism Speaks? What is the best way for a family to get involved with Autism Speaks and access their services? What is the best way to meet other families in the local community?
Julie Reyes: “To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org; here you can donate to a walk, find events in your local community to support or get involved in, read the latest research, get connected with the services, materials, and resources. There are so many ways and opportunities to contribute; from volunteering for a Walk Committee, to state and local advocacy and awareness, to fundraising – every person can make a difference – you won't regret it!
Once again, EverydayFamily extends our heartfelt appreciation to Julie Reyes for sharing her expertise and passion for Autism Speaks with our readers. We applaud the fine work of Autism Speaks in raising awareness of autism spectrum disorders and for excellence in service, research, and advocacy.
Julie Reyes Biography
Julie, first and foremost a mom of 7 and 1/2 year old triplets and wife of retired US Army Colonel DJ Reyes who served over 33 years of service to our great USA. Julie’s diverse background and 23 years of professional corporate experience provide her with important insights in leadership and management with Chase Manhattan Bank and, Citigroup and most recently Early Autism Project. In 2007 their son Christian was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. At this point Julie jumped into research and action and established an ABA, Speech, OT, and PT therapy plan for him and the family – establishing that “it’s a team sport”. Since then she has received the following education/ training as pertaining to ASD therapy: Positive Practices in Behavioral Support at the Institute for Applied Behavioral Analysis, Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) Board Certified Assistant Behavioral Analyst (BCaBA) course work completed. She is a member of FABA and APBA.
In addition to her role as the Reyes family “COO”, she has extensive experience with a wide variety of volunteer service for both the military and local communities. For over 7 years she has been an active and engaged Family and Special Needs Family Advocate from the local through national levels. As a former Army Brigade Commander and Key Spouse in Fort Gordon GA, DJ and Julie helped facilitate Fort Gordon’s Installation Program for families of other units who needed assistance. During this period they also planned and executed the first ever Department of Defense “Strong Bonds” Retreat for families, at Great Wolf’s Lodge, North Carolina.
Locally, and for the past 3 years, Julie spearheaded fundraising and awareness efforts in Tampa Bay in her role as volunteer Chairperson, Walk Now for Autism Speaks – Tampa Bay. In support of the Annual Walk, Julie served as the MacDill AFB Team Captain. Additionally, Julie and DJ have taken a lead role in facilitating the monthly MacDill AFB Parent Connect meeting, and have developed an extensive coordinator and family networks primarily throughout the North and Southeast region of the US. In April 2013, DJ and Julie founded Cuspis Vir Consulting LLC. As business consultants and strategic planners, DJ and Julie leverage their first hand personal, professional and corporate experiences to enable individuals, company and organizational leadership’s professional growth, and the development of strategic vision, mission statement, team organization and mission essential tasks required for success in today’s market. They also devote their efforts to ensuring families become knowledgeable and empowered to better be able to find and obtain resources needed to help with their specific and uniquely special needs. Contact Julie: firstname.lastname@example.org