ANCA (naturallyautistic.com) kicked off their local event on April 2 in Gibsons in honour of world wide celebrations to be held in Edin-burgh, Scotland, in October at the International Naturally Autistic People Awards convention and festival.
ANCA organizer Leonora Gregory-Collura welcomed supporters to Boomer's Burgers in Gibsons and introduced Charlie Collura of ANCA Consulting and Foundation. The evening involved a video of previous events, entertainment and speakers, some of whom were Skyped into the restaurant from Scotland and around the world. There was also music from Stand for the Bear and from local singer/songwriter Ashley Hautala.
Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe, who recently proclaimed April 2 in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day, was on hand to address the crowd while other politicians sent in their best wishes to be read aloud.
"We've set a precedent in this community," Gregory-Collura told the audience. "We're the first municipality to go gold," referring to the gold floodlights Gibsons town council has switched on in the foyer in honour of the day.
Canada's ambassador to the awards in Scotland, April Dawn Griffin, an artist from Saskatchewan, was introduced and she spoke about how proud she was to represent the country. Arnie Grant and Ellen Knott of the Gibsons Legion will also be heading to Scotland to represent local support.
If they can raise the funds, two young dancers, Ella Garrick and Ciara Cassidy from Danceworks Academy, are also bound for Edinburgh to display their talents. Dressed in their gold costumes, they chatted with the audience and served the celebratory cake. Rowe met each girl and personally donated $100 to their fundraising efforts. Others chipped in with donations, and Gregory-Collura was delighted with the response.
Lesley Jones, a board member for ANCA, told Coast Reporter that every year for the past five years the festival event has become bigger and shows talent from around the world. She noted that autism is on the increase too. Current figures show that one in every 68 children is diagnosed.
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