April is autism awareness month and Richie’s Alliance for Autism returns for its sixth annual fundraising campaign. Wining, dining, shopping and a golf tournament all play their role in the event, with a chance to win a seven-day Royal Caribbean cruise for two.
The three-day, multi-function event raises awareness for autism and funds for Haywood County Schools Exceptional Children’s Program. The Exceptional Children’s Program provides special education and related services designed to prepare students for further education, future employment and independent living.
The yearly fundraiser provides the Exceptional Children’s Program with a substantial donation each year — with funds from 2022 amassing to $75,000 alone. Richie’s Alliance provides scholarships for students with learning disabilities with the funds and the bulk of supplies for students in the program.
Louis and Debbie Perrone launched the campaign in 2016 in tribute to son Richie Perrone, who was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in 2009 and is the face and namesake of the organization.
“My son Richard is who we do this for,” said Louis Perrone, co-creator of Richie’s Alliance for Autism. “We see what it takes for parents, and the resources the schools need to provide a good education for kids in the program.”
Richie’s Alliance for Autism recognizes the need for communities to come together, providing support and understanding for those on the spectrum of autism and their families.
“There are extraordinary members in every community living under the umbrella of autism,” said Perrone. “These unique individuals, young and old, enrich our lives tremendously. We believe that by supporting autism awareness and helping families receive information, tools, and resources, we can transform our community landscape toward one of compassion and understanding.”
The pandemic brought a halt to the annual fundraiser, but it launched again in 2022 with a renewed sense of mission and vigor for the organization.
“We had two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid,” said Perrone. “Our organization went through a regrouping during this time and last year was just extraordinary.”
This year’s events will be bigger and better according to according to the organization’s website. Additional mercantile participants will give donors the ability to round out a full day of fun, all while giving to a great cause.
“The ‘Dine Out’ is bigger than the past, and this year we will include some shops as well,” said Perrone. “You can go to breakfast, go shopping and then go out to dinner.”
‘Casino Royale’ Autism Awareness Golf Tournament
A golf tournament will be held Monday, April 17, at the Maggie Valley Club.
The “Casino Royale” themed golf tournament, presented by the Maggie Valley Club in Maggie Valley, starts at 8 a.m. The Casino Royale is an 18-hole Captain’s Choice style tournament with “shot-gun” style start at 9:30 a.m. Prizes will also be up for grabs as golfers make their way across the course.
The cost is $150 per person or $600 for a team, with a limited number of slots. Pre-registration is required online at Richiesalliance.org (click on the “shop” tab) or the morning-of by 8:30 a.m.
Dine Out/Shop Out
A Dine-Out-Shop-Out day for Autism will be held across Haywood County on Tuesday, April 18.
Participating restaurants, shops and breweries will donate 10% of their revenue for the community-wide fundraising event that brings together businesses and consumers to help raise funds for Autism awareness.
A few participating businesses in the area are Frankie’s Italian Trattoria, Amici’s Italian Restaurant, The Blue Rooster, Valley Cigar and Wine Co, Beach Mountain Diner and Angelo’s Family Pizza & Italian restaurant. A more complete list will be released closer to the date.
‘Taste,’ a food and wine festival
An event for foodies will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, at Maggie Valley Club.
This premier culinary event will feature top chefs, wineries and brew masters from across Haywood County. With sampling of great local restaurants and schmoozing with the area’s top culinary talent, this event brings the best of Haywood County’s culinary world under one roof.
A live auction, champagne tasting and the sound of jazz musicians James Hammel and Friends will fill the venue, with Master of Ceremonies Allen Brasington to guide the evening’s events. Tickets are limited and cost $100. The event has sold out in the past. Tickets can be purchased at richiesalliance.org (click on the “shop” tab.)
A raffle is underway offering a trip for two aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn at the Taste event, but the winner doesn’t have to be present. Raffle tickets are $50 and can be purchased at richiesalliance.org (click on the “shop” tab.)
To view the full list of participating venues, purchase tickets or learn how to become a sponsor for the three-day event, visit richiesalliance.org.
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