KCIAF is excited to learn that Jim Sweetman has put his recent efforts towards a fundraiser car show, and has pledged that all proceeds will be going to KCIAF. Jim has worked to promote awareness of neurological disorders for over 10 years, on behalf of “Age” who has autism as well as a mutation in KCNMA1 leading to a KCNMA1-linked channelopathy.
It will be held at Island Beach State Park, just south of Seaside Park New Jersey on October 26th (10am-4pm). There will be a car show where car enthusiasts and “modders” can show off their creative efforts with a chance to win one of 30 trophies for various categories of cars, as well as trucks and motorcycles. There will also be a trophy for best Halloween costume. In addition to the car show, the entire park is a destination of its own, with miles of beaches, a nature center, birdwatching, and more. Click here in order to register your car for the event. However, there is no fee (apart from the part entry fee) for the general public to attend, see the cars, and participate in the festivities. Download the flyer, and email Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Why a car show? Because Jim has been combining his love of cars with awareness of autism for a long time. He bought a 2005 Subaru WRX with plans to “modify it and turn it into a beast”. But he was also getting involved in the autism community at a time when the general public was not quite yet aware of autism. He notes one particular incident where he was pulled over by the police after taking Age to the drugstore. “The car was very loud” he notes with a smile. Age was disturbed and confused by the police lights and bolted out of the car.
Jim recalls: “Soon after it looked like a scene out of a movie. 10-15 police cruisers pull up all flashing with loud sirens. The rest of the night was chaos. The police were not yet educated on autism nor knew anything about it which was surprisingly since it was 1 in 150 people at that time. I did my best to educate. I got in touch with our local organization who were already beginning to go all over the state educating medical professionals and every law enforcement. They quickly took action. We then went straight to the police station and educated the captain at the time. That is when I slowly started changing the WRX into the ‘Autism Subaru’”.
The idea for his “Autism Subaru” struck him early on when he attended a car show fundraiser benefiting breast cancer and met a family who had painted their Mustang pink. His Subaru WRX soon began its transformation. He decorated his car with puzzle graphics inside and out (a puzzle piece is one of the symbols/logos used for autism awareness), and his car won awards. In 2009 he hosted his first car show, for the benefit of autism, and raised $2500.
“I was soon followed by desperate families searching for help with autism,” Jim writes. “I started carrying pamphlets and brochures to further explain it in detail. We made cards so if we went out to places, we left it with the tip so anybody interested can learn further. I ended up meeting even more families and medical professionals asking for help or ideas. We became heavily involved in the autism community and readily doing car shows. The Autism Subaru project is now known all over. I'm followed by people around the world and have become a symbol of hope for so many. It’s crazy because sometimes we feel like we get attacked by paparazzi when we get to a show sometimes. It’s a good feeling though.” Jim concludes “It’s working.”
KCIAF is honored that Jim is putting together this event and thanks him for his efforts to raise awareness and funds for people and families dealing with KCNMA1-linked channelopathy!
Note that this fundraiser is an independent effort of KCIAF supporters. However, KCIAF.org is working closely with the organizers and are endorsing their efforts. Send us an email if you have any questions regarding the fundraising arrangement.