Record crowds attend Autism Day festivities

Warm temperatures and a day filled with free activities combined to attract more than 600 families to the annual Autism Day Washington celebration at Jubilee Farm in Carnation on Saturday, Aug. 11.

Founder Lynne Banki, of Sammamish, estimated that 1,500 people took part in the fun-filled event for families that have been touched by autism. Nonprofit specialist GFS Fund Development, of Sammamish, coordinated both the sponsorships and donations from dozens of local businesses to cover expenses for the 11th annual event.

The number of sponsors jumped by 25 percent this year, with vendors providing food, water and raffle items for the first time.

“Attendance this year was up by at least 50 percent over last year,” said Banki. Banki said all 600 Autism Day WA T-shirts were given away less than an hour after the event began.

There were 88 vendor booths set up in the pasture near the barn.

Sara Gardner, who coordinates the Autism Spectrum Navigators program at Bellevue College, said she was able to reach more families in just four hours at Jubilee Farm than she can usually connect with over an ordinary month.

The AS Navigators program provides support and peer mentoring for students at the college.

Banki said the continued success of the Autism Day WA will allow her to stage similar gatherings in other areas of Washington, and eventually in other states as well.

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