Whole Foods joins fight against autism

By Rachel Leigh - bio | email

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (WFLX) - "My son has autism," said Kathy McKibbin, Autism Speaks 2010 co-chair.

"I have my son, who is 9 years old, Alexandro, who was diagnosed when he was 3 years old," said Denise Negron, Autism Speaks 2010 co-chair.

"My son was diagnosed 25 years ago," said Jaclyn Merens, South Florida Regional Director of Autism Speaks. "Your dreams for your child turn out to be very different than what you thought they were on the day they were born."

When Jackyn's son was diagnosed, autism was said to only effect one in 10,000. Today that number has increased to one in 91. "These new prevalence rates are so out of whack. We have to figure out why."

That's why she, along with Jaclyn and Denise, all belong to the group called Autistic Speaks.

"It's the only organization that works collectively in terms of promoting autism awareness," said McKibbin.

Right now, Autism Speaks' main fundraiser is their walks held through the U.S. So Whole Foods decided to host another one: "The Blues and Brew Food and Wine Festival" at their Downtown at the Gardens location.

Neighboring stores also came out to support. And together, the event raised $6,000. That money will help find a cure, so more children will have similar stories these mom's. "My son is now a theatre major at Dreyfoos School of the Arts getting straight A's," said McKibbin.

"His change has been dramatic," Negron added.

You can get involved by logging onto autismspeaks.org.