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"Losing It" For Autism

Like many, Mark Brimeyer began 2011 with a new year’s resolution to shed a few pounds. But instead of doing it just for his own health and happiness, he’s doing it for autism awareness, too.

Photo Leah Dennison
April Schmidt and her autistic son Luke, 6, visit in a local coffee shop with Mark Brimeyer, who’s on a pledge-sponsored weight loss plan to raise money and awareness for autisim.

Brimeyer, owner of Texture Salon in Spring Hill, is accepting per-pound pledges as well as flat donations of $15 or more during his 15-week weight loss plan, which began the first of the year. He hopes to drop 40 pounds. All proceeds raised will go toward the Spring Hill Autism Support Group, founded by April Schmidt who is mother to 6-year-old Luke with autism.

All sponsors will receive a free “Autism Speaks” T-shirt for participating and will also eligible to win several additional prizes, including hair cuts and color treatments, gift baskets and jewelry. To make a pledge or donation, visit Texture Salon at 5306B Main Street or call (615) 594-5093.

Brimeyer said the fundraiser-named “Mark’s Losing it for Autism”-provides him with “an added measure of accountability, as well as the opportunity to do something positive for people in the community.”

Autism affects approximately 1 in 110 children in the U.S., according to a 2010 statistic from the CDC. A spectrum disorder, autism can include a wide range of symptoms in varying degrees of severity.

Spring Hill’s Autism Support Group is open to “anyone affected with autism, whether it’s parents, family members, teachers, therapists, whoever,” Schmidt said. “We want to bring education to people in a safe and supportive environment. It’s a lonely path when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Schmidt said the Autism Support group will use the funds raised by Brimeyer to support goals of its own this year, such as filing 501(c)3 status and securing a regular meeting facility with two rooms, one of which will be used to provide on-site day care during meetings, so both parents can attend. “I don’t want meeting nights to become an added stressor for these families,” Schmidt said.

For now, the meetings are being held at the Spring Hill Public Library at 9:30 a.m., one Saturday morning a month. The next is scheduled for February 12th.

While meeting attendance varies, the autism support group currently has about 30 members on its roster, which Schmidt said, is more than she ever expected when she organized the first meeting two years ago..................click here to read the rest of the article!!!!!