Laughs for a cause

Nicole King

Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation hosted their fourth annual, “Comedy Show for Autism” at the historic Fox Theater for the second year in a row on Friday Sep. 12.

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The Fox Theater stage displaying the logo for the Fullerton Cares Autism Coalition Photo credit: Mathew Flores

One of the most popular events in the city, this year’s show hosted almost 700 guests and raised nearly $40,000. The event offered sponsors and guests a night of laughs, food, auctions and raffles.

To date, FCAF has raised over $80,000. Proceeds from the event are used to fund local special education programs, including projects like the new sensory garden at Commonwealth Elementary, which offers therapeutic and tactile features for children with special needs .

The FCAF was founded in 2009 by Fullerton Resident Larry Houser, after his son Boyd was diagnosed with autism. The foundation operates with a mission of “acceptance, awareness, and fundraising” for children with autism.

“We’re thrilled to be back at the Fox for a second year,” Houser said. “Moving to this larger venue helped us grow the event substantially in 2013. Not only were we able to raise a considerable amount of money, but also benefit the Fox Theater. It was a win-win.”

This year’s event had several award-winning and television star comedians lined up to perform including; host, George Perez from MTV’s Yo Momma!, Payaso Comedy Slam, headliner Steve Trevino from The Late Late Show, BET Comic view and special guest comedian Keith Reza.

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Comedian and Event Host, George Perez, performing at the Fullerton Cares Comedy for Autism event Photo credit: Mathew Flores

“We’re pleased to have a diverse lineup of comedians who have performed for audiences all over the country, and have appeared on radio, television, and film as well,” said Houser.

Comic brat Keith Reza was born in Texas. After moving with his mother to California when he was two, Reza always wanted to be in show business. When Reza was 13, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Never being able to make friends, or explore romantic relationships, Reza took his disorder to the stage through comedy. Reza has been named Top 50 Funniest by the ultimate Laff-Down Comedy Competition, produced by Bill Word.

“I wanted to do comedy because I have autism, I have this thing called Asperger’s, so I always got picked on in school and I didn’t know why people were laughing at me,” Reza said. “So I went to an open mic and I just started talking and then they were laughing at me, and it was like the good laughs, so I just stayed with comedy.”

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Special guest comedian, Keith Reza, performing at the Fullerton Cares Comedy for Autism event Photo credit: Mathew Flores

Reza added that if there was one thing he would want his audience to take away from his performance, is to be inspired.

“People who have autism can make their dreams come true. If people come up to me and say they enjoyed it then that’s all I can do,” he said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control, autism affects about one in every 68 American children, including one in 42 boys. Autism is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges.

In attendance with the large crows as Fullerton Mayor, Doug Chaffee.

“We need to take care of people who have these diseases. It’s very important so they have a chance to correct the problem that they have, and help construct these citizens,” Chaffee said. “We have a lot of talented people that are helping do that, and keep doing it.”

In much of the the Fullerton communities eyes the event was a major success especially in Houser’s.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with all of the great support from everyone who’s attended and played a part,” said Houser.

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