BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — With the 16th annual Acoustics for Autism just around the corner, volunteers and musicians are busy getting ready for the event that supports Project iAm families.
Ninety bands will be performing on eight stages in uptown Maumee on Sunday, March 5. Megan Lesle, of The Amelia Airharts, is just one of many performers who are prepared to entertain thousands of event-goers.
“It’s pretty great because it’s the one time of the year where everybody comes together in the music community and we raise money for a good cause,” Lesle said. “It’s a huge event, and all of the money raised goes toward scholarships for people in our area who are affected by autism.”
Lesle has been supporting and performing in the event for many years now and said she has learned from her experiences within her own family as well as her experience as a teacher why this is a great cause to support.
As for Dee Dowling, her family has been participating for more than a decade in Acoustics for Autism. Her son, Dan, sometimes known as Dancing Dan, looks forward to the event every year, excitedly pointing it out on the calendar and reminding his mother of the day he gets to see some of his favorite bands in action.
“This is a big part of his social life, which can sometimes be more priceless than therapy,” Dee said. “
While Dan finds himself a place to dance during the event, Dee will be helping with the silent auction and making sure funds are raised for families in need of additional support, just like hers.
“Therapy is not cheap, so to get assistance for that is amazing,” Dee said. “How lucky am I to find that?”
Dan is a big fan of animal therapy, particularly horses. The family has found a speech therapist who works with Dan using horses, which has helped him and embraces his interests. Each person is different, however, so everyone has unique needs and anticipated costs when it comes to autism spectrum therapy and other related necessities.
That’s why Project iAm is so important to the Dowling family, Dee said. She knows firsthand how events like Acoustics for Autism can help.
“It’s all for the kids. If you want to see the community come together, you have to come out,” Lesle said. “All of the money goes right into our area to support our families. You need to be a part of it.”
Scott Hayes, director of fundraising for Project iAm, knows there aren’t many people in the area who haven’t heard of the event, but there are many who don’t know the full extent of what to expect at Acoustics for Autism.
The silent auction, which goes live on the event’s website on Monday, February 27, will include items to appeal to every attendee, Hayes said.
He added that it’s not possible to assist as many families as the group does each year without the support of the community.
“We love everybody who works so hard. We’re thankful for the musicians, volunteers and everybody who comes out.”
With an expected crowd of upwards of 15,000 people, the free event does a lot to raise funds and awareness. The 300 block of Conant Street, in addition to the 100 blocks of West Wayne and West Dudley streets, will be shut down to accommodate the large crowd.
With the thousands of people expected to turn out to show their support for Project iAm’s event, uptown Maumee can become busy with people and parked cars, so the event organizers have even arranged for shuttles this year.
Childers Transportation will be running a shuttle from the Jed’s location at 2554 Parkway Plaza in Maumee and iDance will have 11-passenger vans transporting people from Ye Olde Cock ’n Bull at 9 N. Huron St. in Toledo all day.
“If people don’t want to deal with the parking, the shuttle is a really good option, too,” Lesle said.
More information on the Sunday, March 5 event can be found at acousticsforautism.com along with the Project iAm Facebook page.