Avergan Foundation hosted its launch party last Thursday with gusto. It was a classy and contemporary scene with the Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge packed full of people. Guests sipped on white wines and event-themed “heart warmer” cocktails at the bar—tested and approved!– perused high quality silent auction items and dined on decadent hors d’oeuvres and vegan desserts. The crowd included friends and family of founders Allison and Tom Barnhill, and many benefit-enthusiasts, such as special guests Mayor Mike Pantelides and his girlfriend, Christine Dance, a special needs private therapist. Everyone got rowdy for the live auction portion of the evening as people bid on a beautiful canvas picture, a hand crafted necklace, and an exclusive Orlando trip for four. Amanda McMahon took photos at the event while live music filled the chilled night air on the top floor and the DJ cranked it on the second floor of the restaurant venue.
The crowd silenced as the words “1 out of 88 American children are on the autism spectrum…” flashed across a screen and
a Clickspark documentary film about the Avergan Foundation was debuted. Click here to view the documentary! As the film told the story of the Barnhill Family, and that of the Avergan Foundation’s first benefactors– Brayden Liverman and his family– all guests gained further insight to autism spectrum disorders and the high price of special care for children living with ASD. Kendra and Jeff Liverman have two sons, Brayden (5) and Grayson (3 ½). Brayden was diagnosed on the autism spectrum when he was 2 years old. He attends ECI classes and use to attend a typical daycare, but due to his special needs, the daycare requested he find a new location. Generous sponsors provided the funds through Avergan Foundation for Brayden to start going to the Cisco Center, a non-profit education center serving children and families with special needs by focusing on development on academic and readiness levels, speech/language therapy, oral motor skills, eating/feeding skills, socialization skills, and fine motor/gross motor skills. Avergan Foundation helps make this kind of service possible for kids living with autism and provides background and support for the families.
The Launch Party was a huge success, raising $7,500, a sum equated to 8 months care benefitting the Liverman’s son, Brayden. All funds made at the event went straight to The Avergan Foundation to turn around as provision for scholarship-children like Brayden to continue attending the Cisco Center. For an idea of the heavy financial burdens placed on families living with ASD, The average cost for ASD services is $1800-$2500 a month, and is necessary for social integration and progress in the key developmental years of autistic youth. In an interview with the Livermans, on their much deserved night out for the foundation, the realities of life in the autism spectrum proved challenging and different, but sweet with an intimately connected and supported community of specialists, families, and individuals focused on caring for these kids. Kendra opened up about life with Brayden, explaining that a change in daily routine can upset Brayden, dietary restrictions require close attention to detail and the idea of a babysitter is practically unreal because of the demands of caring for a special needs child. “Its not a bad life at all, just a different life,” said Liverman as she and her husband passionately described life as parents and their energetic son’s enthusiasm for life. The Avergan Foundation was able to provide for the Liverman family a huge emotional and physical aid in a hard time and provided a healthy environment for Brayden to learn in and thrive from.
It is through the heart of the Barnhill family and the care by you and me through donations and volunteer work, that families can find support and care when living within the autism spectrum. The Avergan Foundation brought that same heart to a well planned and sophisticated charity event, bringing the community together for autism awareness and fundraising for kids like their son, Logan, and the Liverman’s son, Brayden. It was an incredible launch event for a good cause and with good people. The Avergan Foundation will continue to grow and provide for families as the Barnhill’s prepare for another event next year. The event will be an “Au-some Music Fest” on March 8, 2014 at Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge. They are anticipating two floors of music and all funds to again benefit Avergan Foundation. We will continue to follow Avergan Foundation and Brayden’s progress as we enter into the new year. If you are interested in learning more about Avergan Foundation or making donations, check out this amazing documentary and their website, or get in touch with Allison and Tom Barnhill personally with questions and comments. They are an incredible pair doing amazing things for the community, sharing their personal experiences and helping others to find the support and care, financial relief and insight that is all symbolized in the heart logo, and exemplified by Avergan Foundation.