Coaldale family plant fundraiser garners international support for autistic son

Click to play video: 'Support for Coaldale man with autism grows through plant fundraiser' Support for Coaldale man with autism grows through plant fundraiser
WATCH ABOVE: A family from Coaldale, Alta., is raising funds for 19-year-old Carson Swazey so he is able to purchase a new sensory toy. As Eloise Therien explains, the family has received an influx of donations and international support. – Jul 20, 2020

Nineteen-year-old Carson Swazey from Coaldale started selling some of his mom’s houseplants last week, in an effort to make himself some money.

Swazey, who has autism and is non-verbal, is unable to partake in his usual volunteering activities and is no longer in school. Now, he’s utilizing his spare time by selling the plants in hopes of using the funds to purchase a new sensory toy.

Read more: Autism after 18: Why the system is failing Canadian adults on the spectrum

His mom, Amanda Kinney, says a single online post about the plant sale has resulted in 40,000 likes and an enormous amount of responses.

“I was in a subreddit called ‘houseplants’ and posted on that, and I’ve had feedback even from people in Australia.”

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She says people have offered to send plant clippings, post-cards and even kids’ drawings to Carson.

After selling out of plants last week, the family has received dozens of donations to continue the fundraiser into the weekend.

“It’s almost overwhelming how much support we’ve received. It’s just beautiful,” she said.

Read more: New home was ‘best’ treatment for adopted boy with autism, Stauffer lawyers say

Diane Van Maanen, a friend of the family who helped set up the event, said Carson’s fundraiser is not only beneficial for him, but for others as well.

“I think it just brings awareness to autism and some of the challenges that are involved with dealing with someone with autism,” she said.

“It shows that there are a lot of good-hearted people out there.”

Kinney isn’t sure exactly how much money will be raised and said the family may also extend their event until all the plants are sold.

She added that many sensory toys are expensive and is hopeful Carson will be able to purchase whatever he chooses with the money raised.

“These are items that he can use for the rest of his life and get a lot of enjoyment out of them.”

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The family says once Carson chooses his toys, updates will be posted to his Instagram page.

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