It was a wonderful evening in a wonderful space. This year’s annual Autism Society of Indiana (ASI) Excellence Awards event was held at the Robert Irsay Pavilion and featured tasty hors d’hoeuvres, fine silent and live auctions, and guests dressed to celebrate. Little Star Center, which won the Excellence in Direct Care award at last year’s event, served as a major sponsor of the evening, along with Noble of Indiana, Katz Sapper & Miller, Franciscan St. Francis Health and Hope Plumbing.
One of the more memorable moments of the affair was provided by John Mikkiah Thompson, a young adult on the spectrum, who entertained the crowd with several musical selections. His talent on keyboards and vocals was exceptional and the crowd gave him well-earned standing ovations.
Emcee Tracy Forner, co-host of Indy Style program on WISH-TV, kept the presentation moving along with his trademark style and made a fashion statement with his lime green shirt to coordinate with ASI logo colors.
Doug McKinney, a parent of a Little Star learner, donated one of the most unique items of the silent auction…a stunning, hand-crafted writing instrument featuring multiple types of wood cut into puzzle pieces and fitted together smoothly around the pen barrel. It was one of the most popular articles of the evening, garnering a significant donation to the cause. Doug, you are an amazing artist! We admire your talent and your generosity.
This year’s ASI Excellence Awards went to the following individuals: Excellence in Advocacy/Self-Advocacy: Brooke Taflinger; Excellence in Early Intervention: Dr. Hannah Shertz; Excellence in Direct Care: Vicki Mabanta; Excellence in Family Leadership: Patty Reed; Excellence in Education: Chris Steffen; and Excellence in Partnership: John Fultz, Project Lifesaver.
More than 250 guests attended the celebration, which raised more than $20,000 for the ASI mission of providing individualized information and support referrals to individuals who are affected by autism at little to no cost to the individual or family. To this end, ASI offers support and advocacy, and works to increase awareness and acceptance throughout Indiana. It is the first point of contact for people around Indiana when they need support, input, or a shoulder to cry on.