BLOOMINGTON — Autism McLean will honor at an event Sunday its award recipients who have made a positive impact on the lives of people with autism.
Fourteen individuals and organizations from the community will be honored at Autism McLean’s annual meeting and holiday party at 5:30 p.m. at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal.
Bruce and Jeannie Breitweiser, David Dow and Jim Neeley, all of Bloomington, will received the Above and Beyond Autism Champion award for their work on the Spider Saloff concert and art auction fundraiser that raised money and broadened outreach for Autism McLean.
The Above and Beyond award is meant to recognize community members who “lead by example and have made a direct impact on families and individuals with autism,” according to a news release from Jacquie Mace, president of Autism McLean.
The Employer Award will be presented to Vasudha Pinnamaraju, executive director of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, and the commission’s office manager, Jordan Brown, both of Bloomington. This award is given to an employer who creates or advances employment opportunities for people with autism.
Lauren Belville of Normal and Mandy White of Bloomington will be honored as The Excellent Educators for their efforts to enhance the future of students with autism. White is a former teacher at Stevenson Elementary School, Bloomington, and Belville teaches at Colene Hoose Elementary School, Normal, the hub for the McLean County Unit 5 Behavioral Emotional Support Team, which provides intensive behavioral and emotional support to students.
Four children will receive the Outstanding Sibling Award for going “above and beyond to help their siblings with autism”: O’Livia and Sophia Stalter of Goodfield and Jeremy Lumsdon and Kacy Bersche of Bloomington.
The Gold Star Member award, which recognizes a Autism McLean member who has had a significant impact on the organization and in the lives of those affected by autism, will be awarded to Chuck Hartseil of Normal. The former director of special education for Unit 5, Hartseil is a board member and treasurer for Autism McLean and a longtime autism advocate, Mace said.
For the Memorial Missing Piece, the organization will honor 13-year-old Emily “Emi” Wilson of Normal, who died Sept. 17.