As a teacher of students with special needs for the last five years, autism is a term with which I have become very familiar. Though autism affects about 1 out of every 110 children today, there are still many things we don’t know about this developmental disability – including what causes it. Researchers are looking at both genetic and environmental factors as possible causes. And to compound our confusion, there is a great range in the symptoms and severity among people with Autism, so we refer to it as a “spectrum disorder.”
“No one wants to think or believe that anything could be wrong with their child,” says Karen Nardelli of Robbinsville, NJ, “but I knew in my heart that something was different about Tommy. In July 2009 at the age of three Tommy was diagnosed with autism. There have been many challenges over the past year and many times I felt alone and helpless. After I discovered Talk About Curing Autism I knew I would not be alone anymore and that there was someone who was able to help me in my journey. TACA has helped me in so many ways. I feel that I need to give back so TACA can continue to help those who are affected by autism.”
Nardelli, whose family owns Cream Ridge Winery in Cream Ridge, NJ thought that having a fundraiser at her family’s winery would be a good way to raise awareness and give back to those affected by and living with autism. On July 10, 2010 Cream Ridge Winery hosted An Evening for Autism, benefiting the organization Talk About Curing Autism.
I ordered my ticket for the event as soon as I heard about it. And having only ever visited wineries and vineyards in Italy, I was also excited about experiencing my first New Jersey winery. The Cream Ridge Winery is rustic and fun and the night of the event was packed with people. In addition to wine tastings, vendors, and raffle prizes to keep everyone entertained, music was provided by Allison Laine who performed songs from the show, Day After Day, a rock opera written by Steven Allen about a child with autism.
Also happy to show her support the event was Sandra Saponaro who is familiar with autism as well. “I am the proud mommy to a wonderful 8-year-old little boy who has autism,” Saponaro says. “I have been raising him myself since diagnosis at 2 1/2 years old and have become involved in many different Autism Foundations, TACA being one of them.” Saponaro learned about the event at the Cream Ridge Winery through her friendship with Nardelli. She says, “I wanted to help out with this raising monies for this much-needed cause. As the owner of How Sweet It Is Cupcake Company, I myself invented my Autism Ribbon of Cupcakes that I have done for many Autism Fundraisers, Autism Speaks walkathons and various school awareness rallies.”
Beautiful cupcakes on display, inspiring music, plenty of gourmet snacks, and unique New Jersey wines made this event one full of positivity and hope. And it was quiet successful too; just under $5000 was raised for TACA!
Nardelli and her family are planning another fundraising event for TACA at the Cream Ridge Winery this April. The upcoming event will take place earlier in the day and include a 5K run through Walnford Park as well as wine tasting and a tent and vendor event at the winery. Check back to our site or visit the winery’s site closer to April for more details.
Though we still have a long way to go in fully understanding autism, we are a little closer because of organizations such as TACA and special people like Nardelli and Saponaro.
The Jersey Girl