“Hi. Thank you for releasing my voice.”
These were the first words typed onto an iPad by Lanier Weed, a 16-year old girl living with autism.
Lanier has been limited to communicating basic needs and wants using simple signs for her entire life. Now, with the help of a tutor, she can type messages to her parents.
Her mother, Leslie Weed, founded the HEAL Foundation, which works to help families of autistic children all over Northeast Florida. HEAL is on a mission to put iPads in all ESE classes in the area.
“With Lanier’s story, we see how much of an impact this can have on a child,” said Patty Crosby, HEAL Foundation’s President. “It’s opening up a whole world to them. Especially the children who are non-verbal, you know, that just can’t communicate.”
HEAL stands for Healing Every Autistic Child, and Crosby said they are helping in any way that they can.
"We do so much. We help many local programs, we help schools, we help with different kinds of therapies, there’s surf camp,” Crosby said. “Anyway that we can help a family who has a child with autism because there’s so much support that’s needed.”
HEAL holds their annual Chopper Ball Drop, Bash, and Charity Golf Classic this week. The main event includes a helicopter dropping hundreds of golf balls on the practice green behind The Player’s Championship Clubhouse. Each ball has been purchased for a donation of 50 dollars to the charity, and cash prizes will be given to the balls closest to (or inside of) the hole.
Proceeds from the event will go to the charity to help more children with autism. For more information, visit the HEAL Foundation at healaustismnow.org.
You can follow Annie Black on Twitter @helloannieblack.