It Takes A Village…

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The weekend of August 4th was not only gorgeous, but it was the 5th annual L.A. Ride For Autism. This event is near and dear to my heart, and I have been honored to be their Grand Marshal for the last 4 years. The day always starts at Laidlaws Harley Davidson in Baldwin Park where everyone registers, has coffee and donuts, listens to some great tunes, and shares in the camaraderie of the biker brotherhood. (That includes the sisterhood too…can’t forget about the ladies!)

Every walk of biker shows up – cruisers, race bikes, café racers, and even some non-riders –and all give their time and money to this great event. From motorcycle clubs to lawyers to factory workers to stay-at-home moms and dads –you name it and they’re there. They quickly take over the Laidlaws’ huge parking lot, turning it into a sea of motorcycles and a thing of beauty.

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This year we rode to The Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas, where the home stretch of the ride took us up P.C.H. to Malibu Canyon, and down to The Sagebrush. (On a side note: the Sagebrush Cantina does a kids night every Tuesday and it’s a blast!! There’s a puppet show, face painting, and tattoos –the kids love it!)

The Sagebrush Cantina donated all the food for 300 riders and their awesome patio had live music, dancing, and lots of raffle prizes. Everybody just has a good ol’ rip roarin’ time! People say bikers have the biggest hearts – they gladly give of themselves and this event lets them go for a great ride, raise some money, and get a chance to relax and forget about their workweek.

On a not so great note, our numbers were down by half this year. I know the economy is taking a toll on everyone, but it’s so important to get involved and help these incredible bright, loving and amazing kids and their families. Your donation really does make a huge difference. This weekend, I met kids on all ends of the Autism spectrum, from those who are graduating from bartending school to those talking for the first time to those being integrated in regular classrooms. Through the money raised by L.A. Ride For Autism, they are being given chances they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten.

I heard heartbreaking stories of families that were dropped by their insurance carriers or were denied coverage because these carriers considered speech problems as a pre-existing condition. I heard of families running out of insurance coverage and then losing their jobs. But I don’t take pity on these families –they are fighters, and so are their children. They battle each and everyday to make ends meet, and see that their children get the care they deserve.

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Because of my passion for this cause, people often ask me if I have a child or anyone in my family who is on the Autistic spectrum. I tell them I don’t –but I believe as a father of four (with another on the way!) and a husband, it is my duty and honor to give back and help out my fellow man and community. I strongly hope that others in our nation’s community feel the same way.

Please, get involved. Give your time and volunteer. If you don’t have the time, even the smallest donations will go a long way. These bright and creative little angels we have been blessed with are here to show us what really matters in life: family and unconditional love.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a nation to raise an autistic one. It’s time to step up and make a difference.

Have you ever volunteered for a cause that was important to you?

Family
  • Marla Murasko

    Dean I think this is wonderful how you give of your time for such a wonderful cause. It really goes to show what a down to earth guy you really are especially with all that’s going on in your own house.

    My son has Down Syndrome you can follow his blog at http://www.special-and-determined.com.

    We have walked every year (he’s six yrs old now) in the Michiana Walk for Down Syndrome. It started out on the beautiful campus on the University of Notre Dame but is switching locations this year.

    I truly feel that giving back to a cause or a community is something that everyone should introduce their children. Starting them to understand what it truly means to “give back to others” will make them have a better appreciations for others differences and be more accepting of them as they grow up.

    Thanks again Dean for all you do. Keep being you.

  • Kathleen O

    Everyone who is in the position to, should have a charity that they are passionate about. One that strikes a chord in their heart. Good for you to give back to your community!
    For me, there are two chosen charities that I am passionate about. As a kidney transplant recipient, of course the Kidney Foundation but I am passionate about animals too. We own two rescue cats, a rescue bird, and one rescue dog. We have a permanent foster dog with us as well. We post and cross post for dog rescues and foster when a dog needs a temporary home. We help our local SPCA by going on charity walks and we donate empties and pet food to them as well. I “Freecycle” for blankets, towels, etc. for them too.
    My husband and I have also done charity rides (he has a classic Kawi 750 turbo) and they’re a blast too!

  • Doreen Porzio

    Dean, I would first like to congratulate you on being the Grand Marshal for 4 yrs on such a worthy cause, “L.A.Ride for Autism!”Such a wonderful thing all of you are doing to raise money! I do have to agree with you, Bikers are known to have a very big heart! I do know about some of these runs! I have gone on some of them, quite a few years ago, to raise money for the “Special Needs Children!” We also had to bring Dolls to the children personally! I still can remember the girls face when I handed it to her! She was so excited and scared at the same time! I told her it was ok.! Then she smiled! I was glad she finally trusted me!….. I was Always on the Back of Harleys, never rode one! I would also go to the Poker runs! I have done many of them! They were always supporting a different cause all the time!….

    Dean, I give you credit for all you are doing! I know you have your hands full! LoL!! I’m glad that you are riding for a cause! I am very Proud of you! I’m sure Tori has gotten use to you riding a little bit more by now!… Not just as much as you were! LOL! She worries about you! You’re her Love of her life, Father of her children!….
    You are Fantastic! We Love all you have been doing!!
    Just be Careful and Ride Safe!! :))

  • Tracy Martinez

    From a Mama with a high functioning autistic 6 year old we Thank you!!!

  • Steven Harris

    That is so great that you do that Dean. Thank you!

  • Desi

    Awesome stuff!! I to do NOT have a family member with Autism but find it to be a great charity to be a part of. My company is always being asked to be a corporate sponsor for events and its hard to say no to some of these organizations. One organization we are proud to be a sponsor for is Autism. My company Ultimate Image cosmetic medical center is part of autism speaks. From what I understand it is a great leader in this cause. If your organization does any work in the tampa bay,Florida area please keep me posted. We would love to be a part!
    Great work Dean

  • Elaine Berg

    As a mom with an autistic child…thank you !!

  • Darren

    Love how active you are in the autism community. My best friend has an 8 year old boy who’s autistic and I see how people treat him differently. Education is key! Thanks for spreading the word. You’re awesome!

  • Zombie Girl

    Thank You!..from a Mom with a wonderful 24yr old Autistic Son, Timmy, you’re a Blessing!! Lisa P. in PA.

  • Brooke

    Thank you so much for all that you & your family do! From a mom with a 4 yr old son on the autism spectrum…

  • JT

    Hi Dean
    Wow what a great guy you are to have embraced this Charity…The disability and the kids that have Autism need to be understood….The kids maybe different but isn’t everyone…great job ;-) JT