Since her son was diagnosed with autism at age three, Camille Nicholsen of Levittown has made it her mission to be his support and his voice in finding a cure.
Each year, "Scott's Superheroes" form a team and walk in the annual walk against autism at in Wantagh to aid Autism Speaks. This year, the Nicholsen family is going above in beyond in honor of Scott, 18, by hosting a benefit at Miller's Ale House in Levittown.
"The reason I participate each year is to not only raise awareness but of course be his advocate," said Nicholsen, whose son Scott attends in Wantagh. "I feel like this is my part, that I can do. Many families pay for services themselves and a lot of insurance plans don't cover the costs. A lot of the districts tend not to pay for extended school services.
Usually walking with a small team, Nicholsen is hoping that the fundraiser, set for Sept. 24, will generate more donations while making the local community more aware of what an epidemic autism has become.
"When Scott was born, to me, he was perfect," explained Nicholsen. "He had 10 fingers and 10 toes. He's still the same child i gave birth to, but now he has this disability that he can't control."
"People really need to educate themselves on autism," she added. "The reality is if you don't know someone now who has autism, you will eventually. It's become so prevalent and it effects everyone around you, your friends and your family. People need to understand it's something that can't be explained or prevented."
The benefit at Miller's Ale House will begin at 5 p.m. A donation at the door of at least $10 will include a complimentary dinner buffet as well as access to drink specials at the bar, and the Nicholsen family will be selling Autism Awareness bracelets for additional donations.
Autism Speaks' annual walk at Jones Beach will take place Oct. 7. Last year's event attracted more than 30,000 participants and raised more than $2 million for research.