BALTIMORE — Autism Speaks, a nationwide organization that strives to improve the lives of those living with autism, partnered with a local business and with the help of the employees, their family members and the community, they were able to make incredible strides in this quest.
The said local business is Shoe City and the company has been actively raising funds for Autism Speaks for 11 years and throughout that time, has raised around $100,000 and it all started with one mother’s search for community and understanding.
Sybil Burroughs Cornish started working at Shoe City in October 2000 and, right from the start, she felt at home.
However, that feeling didn’t change the fact that she had no one who understood the challenges that came with having two autistic daughters, but after attending her first Autism Speaks Walk in 2007, she finally found what she was looking for.
“I met women that were a part of the Autism Speaks community,” said Cornish. “They welcomed me and they understood what my struggle was out in that mall by myself with, very active at the time, twin daughters.”
Cornish says that that event jump-started her dedication to Autism Speaks, which is why she decided to make an attempt to get her company and coworkers involved. She approached her boss, pitched her idea and got a response that she didn’t expect.
“They said ‘Yes, why not? Throw it out there. Put it in our store and see what happens,’” Cornish recalls.
And that’s exactly what she did.
With the help of the community and her coworkers, she was able to give Autism Speaks a $5,000 check that year.
When customers make a purchase in Shoe City, they’re asked if they want to donate to Autism Speaks and, according to Moe Mathis, one of Shoe City’s employees, they usually don’t have a problem collecting donations.
“Most of the time most of them have a family member that has autism,” said Mathis. “So, they don’t have a problem donating.”
The community surrounding the Shoe City that’s located on Greenmount Avenue has gotten so involved in this cause, that this store has raised the most money.
Cornish and her daughters have made such an impact within their community that, years later, the desire to fundraise has continued to spread like wildfire.
Cornish’s coworker, Dan Gallagher’s, 8-year-old grandson has taken it upon himself to fundraise for autism as well.
According to Ayden Jackson, he uses social media to raise funds, but he does it in a specific way.
“I’m saying I’ll need this money to help raise for autism. I’m not gonna say just give me money for something,” said Jackson. “That would be rude to say.”
Jackson also mentioned that he is actively trying to get his classmates involved. He says that he tells them that they’re all the same and that they shouldn’t make fun of people with autism.
“You’re both people. Human beings,” said Jackson.
Another person that raises funds for Autism Speaks is Derrick Dixon.
Dixon, who’s the father of three boys, one of which is autistic, is the CEO of a non-profit organization that’s called the 3D Foundation and, every year, his foundation hosts a fashion show titled “Stomp the Runway for Autism.”
Shoe City provides the clothes for the children that walk the runway and he and his participants do their best to empower them and their parents.
Everyone that’s previously mentioned (and so many more who aren’t) are doing their best to support people with autism. Some for personal reasons and others, just because. Either way, it doesn’t go unnoticed and most of them plan on taking it a step further by participating in the Autism Speaks Walk.
The walk, which is scheduled for October 6 in Towson, provides another way for people to support people living with autism and their families. Everyone is welcome to attend and there is no cost.
All you have to do is sign up.