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Local youth calling on community to support Autism Speaks venture

October 15, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

LOCAL JOURNALISM INITIATIVE REPORTER

Twelve-year-old Caledon resident Marcus Melfi just can’t help himself.

Back in February, the local youngster organized multiple fundraisers to help support the wildfire relief in Australia. 

Melfi organized two different events, one at Skyview Lanes and the other at Landmark Cinema, where he ended up raising $4,100 that went to Canadian Red Cross for the wildfire relief. 

Now, hee’s back at it once again, calling on the Caledon community to help him as he prepares to assist another organization in need. This time, he’s setting his sight on Autism Speaks Canada. 

Melfi has walked in the Autism Speaks annual walk for the past several years, but due to the pandemic, things have turned out a little differently this time around.

“The walk this year will be done as a car parade so that individuals can stay within the safety of their own vehicles and help protect all members in their bubble, yet still allow individuals and families to achieve a common goal,” he explained. 

The event has been aptly titled “Walk on Wheels Parade” and will take place on Oct. 18.

Autism Speaks Canada hits close to home for Melfi as he has several friends and family members who are affected by autism. Plus, he genuinely enjoys fundraising and being able to help others. In the six years he has spent fundraising for various causes, Melfi has raised more than $30,000. 

“I like raising funds for important causes for multiple reasons. One, it brings the community together towards a common goal and I think that’s really cool when people can unite for a common good,” said Melfi. “Two, I like raising awareness and money to support important causes. Three, I also like the fact that I know I am helping someone and making a difference, even if it’s very small.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s struggled to find ways to continue his fundraising kick, as he isn’t able to organize events like the wildfire reflief initiative he set up in February. 

With regards to this latest Autism Speaks fundraiser, there’s been another transition for Marcus too. He hasn’t been able to go door-to-door asking for the communities’ support, which he does each year to help raise money for different charities or organizations. 

“Getting the word out has been difficult as I usually would bring it up in conversations with friends, family, sports teams, etc. but now that we have to stay socially distanced I am not able to bring it up in as many conversations as I have in the past. So instead, I have email and have texted only friends and family that I have contacts for,” Melfi explained. “However, this is not enough.”

Along with his pledge to provide continuous support to Autism Speaks Canada, this year is a little more exciting, he said. Melfi has been asked, and has gratefully accepted, to be this year’s MC for the now virtual event. Being asked has given Melfi the feeling of appreciation and gratitude that all his hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed. 

“I feel very honoured to have been asked and am excited as I really enjoy bringing people together and getting people excited, and that is what the MC gets to do,” he said. “With COVID-19, I will be doing it all virtually this year and am a little disappointed as I enjoy interacting with others in person, though I am still happy for this opportunity.”

And this is where the community comes in. The Melfi family has been thankful for all the help the community has contributed in the past several years, but are asking them to once again continue their efforts for a good cause. 

“I would say to the residents that even though many things/aspects of our lives have changed due to the pandemic, the one thing that has not changed and that has stayed the same during all of this is that people still need our help, and people with autism who suffer from mental, social, communicative and sometimes physical disabilities still need our help now more than ever,” Marcus said. 

He added, “By helping raise money, we can all help support the mission of Autism Speaks Canada, which is to help increase understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder, help advance innovative research and help make connections to lifelong services and supports for the autism community.”

To help Marcus and his family raise funds for the “Walk on Wheels Car Parade” and Autism Speaks Canada, please visit austimspeakscanada.akaraisin.com, click the donate button and look of Marcus Melfi under individual. 



         

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