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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Mardi Gras for autism cure

The 4th Annual Mardi Gras for Autism festival helped raise some awareness last Saturday February 9.

Owner of Bourbon Street bar and founder of Mardi Gras for Autism, Larry Houser was pleased with the turnout. He began organizing the festival years ago after his son was diagnosed with autism.

“It’s an incredible response,” Houser said. “The purpose is to get families that are not affected by autism and expose them to families that are.”

The money is collected by Houser’s Organization “Fullerton Cares,” and sent to the Fullerton School District to fund programs designed specifically for autistic children.

“Last year we made $6000,” he said. “This year we’re expecting $10,000.”

One school in particular, Commonwealth Elementary, has seen at least one benefit in the form a new “sensory garden. ” The garden will help improve autistic children’s communication and motor skills.

Julie Diep, executive director of OC Autism and clinical director of the New Hope Therapy Center, emphasized the purely charitable role of her organization.

“We don’t believe in taking anyone’s money,” Diep said while pasting together a multi-colored paper hat. Diep went on to add all their activities are also free.

Elsewhere on the lot, advocacy group Autism Speaks sold bracelets and hats with the help of their Cal State Fullerton volunteers. The group is dedicated to funding research to find a cure for autism.

The festival also exhibited a number of performers including stilt walkers, jugglers, and the band Dixiedelics.

Miss Fullerton and Fullerton’s Outstanding Teen finalists and contestants were also in attendance distributing raffle tickets.

One Miss Fullerton contestant, Robin Suarez, 18, took special pride in being able to take part in the festival.

“It’s a great cause,” Suarez said. “I love that the whole community is involved. It’s one of those things that’s rarely talked about.”

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