The sun was shining and all faces were smiling at the sixth annual Mardi Gras for Autism event hosted by Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation and Bourbon Street Bar and Grill.
To support autism charities and special education, the free family carnival benefit was held outside adjacent to the Fullerton Train Depot. This year’s event was held on Valentine’s Day where an estimated 3,000 people were in attendance to show their support and enjoy the festivities.
Fullerton Cares was founded with the vision of raising awareness and acceptance for autism in the Fullerton community. To date, FCAF has raised over $80,000. Funds go primarily to benefit programs in the Fullerton School District that support and sustain autism and special needs programs.
“In 2010, I received a phone call telling me my son Boyd had autism,” said Larry Houser, Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation founder. “It completely shook my world. A day of solitude followed where I contemplated my next move. How would I handle this? How can I fix this? What can I do? It was then that I decided I would dedicate my life to autism.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control, autism affects about one in every 68 American children, including one in 42 boys. Autism is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges.
This year’s Mardi Gras event hosted several entertainment attractions including, The Aquarium of the Pacific on Wheels, karaoke at Slidebar, The Face Painting Zone, Medieval Times Junior Knight Training, Circo Acrobatics, and Fullerton High Circus Club.
Many special guest speakers were also in attendance with the locals including Fullerton City Council members and Fullerton Mayor Greg Sebourn.
“It’s awesome, it’s like a one-stop-shop for resources for families and friends with autism,” Sebourn said, on his reaction to the attendance at the event. “The amount of support out here is amazing.”
One of the most humble, yet inspiring attractions at the event was the hand-made Disneyland art display created by 16-year-old Eric Ramirez, a tenth grader at Chino Hills High School.
Ramirez crafted a 3-D display of the Disneyland castle and Disney’s, “It’s a Small World” simply out of paper and tape, complete with sound and music effects. Ramirez’s dedication to his craft was apparent, drawing in crowds with amazement. The entirety of the creation took Ramirez three days to make.
“I love Disneyland and I wanted to make a tribute to my hero Walt Disney,” Ramirez said.
Many local performance groups like the young dancers at CF Dance Academy entertained the crowds with music, showing off their talents and skills on the main performance stage.
The sum of the day was enjoyment and laughter that filled the hearts of all those in attendance. The unity that drew everyone to support one main cause and purpose bonded the community.
To learn more about the foundation visit, fullertoncares.com.