MUSKEGON, Mich. — A community came together Saturday night to raise awareness for a disorder that affects thousands of children in the United States each year. The fundraiser is called Izzy's Mark, which raises money for a West Michigan organization that helps kids and families dealing with autism.
The organizer of Izzy's Mark, Laura Randall, has a seven year old daughter with autism. The fundraiser benefits Autism Network of Muskegon, which has helped Randall in many ways. Now, she wants to give back to them.
At first glance it looks like a Halloween party, but if you look a little closer it is so much more.
"The event is to raise awareness for autism in Muskegon," said Randall. "All the benefits go to Autism Network of Muskegon."
Randall's daughter, Izzy, has autism and is non-verbal. Every day has it's ups and downs, Randall says.
"It's definitely rough when she has what they consider a meltdown," said Randall. "It's totally different from a temper tantrum. It can take two or three hours to come down, but you have your ups and downs."
Saturday's event raised almost $3,000 for the Autism Network of Muskegon. The fundraiser included live music from six local bands, a silent auction, raffle and a Halloween costume contest.
"Autism Network of Muskegon helps to find dentists and doctors that can work with autistic children and transportation," said Randall. "They also provide events for kids on the autism spectrum so they can be together without fear of being teased or anything like that."
The organization not only helps children make friends, they also give their parents a support network.
"Any time you can bring your kid into a social event it's good for them," said Adam Brandel, whose son Damien has Aspergers Syndrome.
"I figure if more information gets put out to parents then they can teach their children about it and we can spread more of an understanding and compassion that I know Muskegon has," said Randall.
To learn more about the Autism Network of Muskegon, visit their Facebook page.