JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Ag for Autism is normally caught up in March Madness at this time of year. But, the organization took at break from its typical themed event for one that features a concert by Barrett Baber on Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m. inside the Arkansas State University Centennial Hall. He auditioned and was a part of season nine of The Voice.
"Normally, we have traditionally done it around the bracket bonanza on the NCAA Tournament," said Danny Graham, Ag for Autism president. "But this year, we thought we would switch it up with Barrett Baber and let him put on a pretty good concert for us while we're doing our fellowship and our silent auction. I think it's going to be a good deal and change up the routine."
Graham is passionate about Ag for Autism. He has a ten-year-old son with autism.
"We're very fortunate. We're in the Greene County Tech School District that has a program for autistic children," Graham said. "There's a lot of schools around that do not have any kind of program for autistic children. So those are the ones that we really need to focus on to have those teachers apply for this money. The teachers know what they're doing. They just need the equipment to work with these children because they are so unique and how things work with them."
Currently, one in 68 American children has been identified as autistic.Children who receive an early diagnosis, intense behavioral intervention, medical treatment, and speech therapy can lead very typical lives. In some cases, autism therapies are not covered by insurance and Medicaid, but are critical to help a child function at their best. Because of that cost, many families in Northeast Arkansas--including many in the ag community--cannot afford services.
Last year, Ag for Autism was able to award 25 grants totaling a record-setting $100,000 for deserving grant recipients. Ag for Autism volunteers have raised well over $400,000 since the organization began in 2012.
"All of the money that we raise stays within Northeast Arkansas," Graham said. "If anybody with a child who has autism, or anybody who deals with an autistic child, will go to our website—Ag for Autism.org, and apply for a grant and put down there what you need—we go through it. We try to divvy up the money as best we can. We hope to have enough money to fund everybody. Some years we do, some years we don't. We're eventually gonna get there. We encourage all the school districts—if they're needing a piece of equipment, to certainly get on there and apply for it. That's what this money is for. To put it into the hands of the people, that can make a difference with it."
The idea for Ag for Autism was born after a number of agriculture-related organizations (Armor Seed, Cache River Valley Seed, and Farm Credit Midsouth) felt compelled to band together in support of a worthy cause, according to the Ag for Autism website.
To learn more about applying for a grant, go to agforautism.org.
Deadline for application is May 31, 2018. Grant requests should be no more than $10,000. All applications must be submitted to:
Ag for Autism
2532 Alexander Dr. Ste. B
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401