Everyone knows someone who is autistic. How do I know? The figures are staggering. According to Autism Speaks, 1 in 70 boys is affected by autism. The overall number is 1 in 110 kids. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than AIDS, diabetes and cancer—combined.
Let's put this in some perspective.
There are 6,000 kids who play soccer in Elk Grove. According to the averages, 54 of those kids are autistic. Of those 54 kids, on average, 43 are boys.
Sixty-two thousand students attend Elk Grove Unified School District schools. Five hundred and sixty-three kids at EGUSD schools are, statistically, autistic. Of those 563 kids, 443 are boys.
There are 112,000 people in Elk Grove. The numbers suggest there are over 1,000 people in Elk Grove who are autistic, and 871 of these people would be male.
Think about who you know in Elk Grove. For everyone 100 kids you know who play soccer, for every eight teams, there is one kid who is autistic. For every three classes in the EGUSD, there is one child who is autistic. Those 100 people you run into at any of our restaurants on a Saturday night, there is one person who is autistic. You know someone who is autistic. We all do. In my case, it's my oldest son.
Despite these numbers, sadly, autism receives less than 5 percent of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases. There just isn't money out there to help study autism. But you can help—and it doesn't even cost much.
April 2 is Light It Up Blue, a day to help shine a light on autism. All you have to do is put up blue lights at your house, your office, city hall, anywhere. They are doing it at the Empire State Building, in Hungary, Bahrain, even at Niagara Falls.
Elk Grove needs to Light It Up Blue. What an inexpensive, easy thing to do. It will make you feel good about yourself and your neighbors.
But let's say you need more of a reason. Let's go beyond how this helps autistic kids, Autism Speaks, and autism in general. If you want to be greedy for a second, think of how this affects Elk Grove. Elk Grove could be the biggest city in California that Lights It Up Blue. We could light up Laguna Town Hall, Elk Grove City Hall, the Wackford Center, banks, office complexes, the high schools, the middle schools, entire neighborhoods. Think of the publicity—people all around the country talking about that city that took this concept and ran with it. We don't need to light up a building—we need to light up a city. We need to stand up and show people how Elk Grove is a city that cares about people, not just our neighbors, but people we have never met and never will meet, people who are not in Elk Grove, not in Sacramento County and not even in California. Let's stand up as a City and show people that we care.
So, I am in. Who else is in? You can go here for more information: http://www.lightitupblue.org/Markslist/home.do
Is Elk Grove willing to stand up with the big cities of New York, St. Louis, Cleveland and Paris?