Dear We Rockers,
In the spring of 2009, my family and I attended my first Los Angeles Autism Speaks Walk at the Rose Bowl. My son Gabriel had been recently diagnosed and I desperately needed the empathy, education, and acceptance of the Autism Speaks community.
The experience at our first walk was truly amazing and a day I will never forget. The love that surrounded the crowd and our family was contagious as people from all over had come together to walk for Autism Awareness. I left the walk feeling empowered and ready to do whatever was needed to help our son.
Since our first walk with Autism Speaks, the Kimmels and Team Gabriel have attended every April for eight straight years. In that span, our team grew from our immediate family to the entire We Rock the Spectrum family. As our kids gym in Tarzana evolved into an international franchise, it was important to me to continue to support this event that had been such a defining moment in my journey as an autism parent.
We have been Community Sponsors, Grand Club Sponsors, and financially supported walks in more than 10 different states throughout the United States. Despite controversies and transitions, we have never wavered in our support of Autism Speaks. No organization is perfect, but when I think of all the autism parents that enter into their Walks feeling alone and confused and then leave feeling connected and inspired, it is clear that our community has benefited greatly from Autism Speaks.
This is why it brings me great sadness to announce that We Rock the Spectrum will not be participating in the 2017 Los Angeles Walk. It came to our attention and was confirmed by Autism Speaks that individuals are being charged $40 just to attend the event this year, and this does not align with the mission of our brand. We Rock the Spectrum provides families in need a sensory-safe space that welcomes children of all abilities at an affordable price of $12. The equipment that is in each of our gyms is similar to what you would find in an occupational therapy session, which cost roughly $150 an hour. We are not a substitute for therapy, but another resource for children with sensory needs. We cannot stand behind an event that does not account for the financial well-being of special needs families.
This is an event designed to comfort and support families across Southern California. It provides educational resources and a sense of community for parents sharing the same journey. It is meant to be accessible and inclusive. By pricing out families and robbing them of this special day, this high cost divides our companionship and betrays our unity as special needs parents.
Therefore, We Rock the Spectrum has respectfully pulled our sponsorship from the 2017 Los Angeles Walk. We continue to support Autism Speaks Walks across the nation as community sponsors, including upcoming events in San Jose, Miami, New Orleans, and Tampa. However, we will not be a part of any Walk that charges the families it is supposed to serve.
Inclusion is universal. At We Rock the Spectrum, we fight for inclusion by creating an environment where ALL kids can come together and play. As special needs parents, our community events and resource fairs must be accessible to ALL families who need assistance and direction. This is my life’s mission and I will continue to support organizations and events that share in this belief.
Our community needs a day for ALL of our Southern California families to come together and experience the same companionship, education, and love that they’ve had in the past. We Rock the Spectrum is committed to leading by example and stepping in as the solution to this void. Our team is hard at work creating the opportunity our families need and deserve. Stay tuned…
We Rock the Spectrum