Okay, so some of you have been asking about the award I won. More specifically, about the speech I gave and what I said.
First of all, I will tell you right now that I hate giving speeches. With a passion. I had to give one at one of the first art shows for this project and I bawled. I barely made it through the speech. I have a hard time talking about things I really care about. And I care about Derek and the other kids in this project a lot.
So, I was determined, when I found out that I won an award and had to give a speech, that I would not cry this time. Easier said than done.
I'll give you a little background about the award. It was given to me by Moonshell Arts and Humanities Council for having a show in Hall County, Nebraska. That was one of the requirements. That I either live in Hall County, that I showed work in Hall County in 2012, or something to that effect. I had a show in Alda, NE (part of Hall County) last winter. So I qualified for the award. And my wonderful friend Brad nominated me. That was all it took.
Last Saturday night, I attended the awards ceremony. 12 other wonderful people received awards. I heard some very inspirational stories--and some great speeches.
This was my speech, give or take a few words:
First of all, I just want to say thank you.
Most parents take certain things for granted. They take a newborn baby home from the hospital, expecting that child to do certain things as they get older.
Clap their hands.
Make eye contact.
Say "mama" and "dada".
My son did none of those things.
This project really began in 2009, when my son Derek was diagnosed with autism. He was not even two years old. He sat at a table for hours driving his toy cars, and I wondered what was going on in his mind.
We put Derek in an intensive therapy program called ABA--Applied Behavior Analysis--and, although the road has been long and bumpy, my son has made great strides. He will enter kindergarten in the fall, with the help of a full-time aide.
I began making art about my son soon after he was diagnosed. It was my way of coping with all of my emotions. I came up with the idea for the project when I met another family with a little boy named Aiden. I realized wanted to make art, not just about my son, but about other kids on the spectrum as well. I wanted to show the world how beautiful autism is.
I had one big problem though--I was an artist without supplies.
So, I decided to see if other people would be interested in my project. I launched it on a website called Kickstarter, asking for donations to help me get started.
I never expected the amount of support I received. The city I live in threw a pancake feed. Friends, relatives, and complete strangers visited the website and donated money.
Over $6,000 was raised. I had enough to buy a small Takach etching press.
Since then, the project has grown in ways I never could have predicted. In less than two years, I've completed 25 pieces. There are now 40 something kids in the project, from 19 different states. And through my blog and fb page, I connected with other parents, some autistic adults, and I've met lots of the kids.
And the project is still growing.
At some point, I plan on writing an illustrated book about this project, and all of the kids involved. I want to put names and faces to the numbers.
So, thank you for your support and for this award.
And a very special thank you to my son, for being my inspiration.