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How to mark Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month in South Florida

Jazzy from Rising Tide Car Wash poses in front of car.
Jazzy from Rising Tide Car Wash poses in front of car. (Courtesy of Rising Tide Car Wash on Instagram @risingtidecarwash)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – April is World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, and South Florida is truly in the spirit. From run/walk marathons for charity to sensory-friendly events, here are some events happening this month:

Participate in The Dan Marino Foundation’s Virtual Fundraiser Walk/Run:

Now through April 13, The Dan Marino Foundation, in partnership with Walgreens, is hosting a virtual run/walk fundraiser, 1.3 With Me For Autism, in honor of World Autism Awareness Day and World Autism Month. This event is a chance for the autism community to re-connect and raise awareness safely. This challenge is a great opportunity for everyone to connect with their friends, family, and co-workers to support autism awareness. Create your own team, or join as an individual. Register at bit.ly/3fe11mi or visit danmarinofoundation.org.

Get a Car Wash at Rising Tide Car Wash:

Rising Tide Car Wash gives employment to those on the autism spectrum in South Florida. Owner John D’Eri co-founded the car wash with his son Thomas in Parkland after being inspired by his other son, Andrew, who was diagnosed with autism. Their mission is to give people with autism an opportunity to have real opportunities and jobs that will challenge them and give them life-long skills. Today, they are open in two locations across South Florida. Open daily, get your shine on at Rising Tide Car Wash, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Two locations: 7201 State Road 7, Parkland; and 2970 State Road 7, Margate. See risingtidecarwash.com for more information.

Join Metro-Dade Firefighter’s Local Autism Bike Ride:

On Saturday, April 17, join the Metro-Dade Firefighter’s Local 1403 2nd Inaugural Autism Bike Ride. Proceeds go towards the University of Miami’s efforts to increase awareness and therapeutic treatments. They have selected two routes: a 12-mile route, and the other a 27-mile route. They will have several rest stops and police escorts along the way. Sign up to join them with a Rider Ticket, or, you may purchase a Donation Ticket to support autism awareness and acceptance. For more information, click here.

Autism Acceptance Month Kick-Off Bike Night at Hard Rock Cafe Miami:

On Thursday, April 15, join Peterson’s Harley-Davidson of Miami and Peterson’s Harley-Davidson South for the Autism Acceptance Month Kick-off event at Hard Rock Café Bayside. Time: 7:00 pm – 12:00 am. Location: Hard Rock Café Bayside on 401 Biscayne Blvd Miami, Fl, 33132. For more information, click here.

Miami Children’s Museum’s Virtual Sensory-Friendly Saturday:

On Saturday, April 10 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., the Miami Children’s Museum will host a very special Autism Awareness Sensory Kit Distribution sponsored by AT&T Pioneers. Families will receive sensory bags filled with goodies! Each bag comes with sensory-friendly fidgets, calming activities, the book “I Like Myself,” an upbeat, empowering book about self-love, and more. Goody bag giveaways are limited to the first 200 households and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Families and children with disabilities are encouraged to join. Though temporarily closed to the public, Miami Children’s Museum’s exciting “Museum at Home” online program continues to bring all the experiences of the Museum to the safety and comfort of one’s own home. Visit www.miamichildrensmuseum.org for more information.

Try to Spot the Coral Gables Police Department Autism Awareness SUV:

To kick off Autism Acceptance month, the Coral Gables Police Department unveiled a vehicle with messaging in support of awareness and understanding. The City worked in partnership with the Crystal Academy in designing the SUV’s messaging. Officer Andrew George who has a special connection with autism as his brother is on the spectrum, will be driving the vehicle. He is excited to help educate the community. Coral Gables is committed to creating an inclusive community that values and respects residents and visitors of all abilities. The City offers a variety of disability-specific programming throughout the year including a social club for adults, a golf program for children, and Special Olympics sports activities.

Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation:

On April 29, join Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation for a virtual family engagement at Tamiami Park where there will be a trivia game Kahoot! For more information on programs or to register, please contact the Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Division Office at 305-755-7848.

About the Author:

Nicole Lopez-Alvar is a Miami-born and raised journalist and TV personality covering South Florida and beyond for Local10.com.