November 29, 2018 1:33 am

Pacific Autism Family Network fundraiser in Vancouver raises $700,000 for programs

WATCH: Autism Fundraiser a huge success

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Volunteers and donors in Vancouver raised more than $700,000 for autism programs at a major fundraiser on Wednesday.

The Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) held its annual LAUNCH holiday luncheon, featuring an upbeat performance by the Mayday Choir, a group made up of children with special needs.

Global BC news director Jill Krop emceed the event, which featured actor-singer Holly Robinson Peete, who has a son with autism, as a special guest.

READ MORE: Thousands of B.C. children waiting for autism assessment

“I will say there’s more information now, more awareness than ever,” said Robinson Peete.

“When RJ, my son who’s now 21, was three and was diagnosed I could barely get anyone around me to even know what autism was. So I think the awareness is better, but we still have a long way to go to spread a little bit more compassion.”

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Autism Speaks Canada estimates that one in every 66 Canadian children has autism. Every year, an estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults and lose access to school-based services.

“We [had] over 1,000 people here supporting us to raise money for Pacific Autism Family Network, and we’re specifically raising money for certain programs and it’s all based around authentic inclusion,” said PAFN founder Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia.

READ MORE: B.C. school for students with autism ‘at capacity’ as wait list grows

“The best thing somebody can do in the community if they witness a family struggling with their loved one with autism is not judge, give them time and space, and say, ‘How can I help.”

PAFN offers a variety of programs and services including assessment and diagnosis, psychology, counselling, adult employment services and outreach.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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