Project iAm Fundraising Music Festival Brings Thousands To Uptown Maumee

A dense crowd gathers by the many food trucks available on East Dudley Street during Acoustics for Autism. MIRROR PHOTOS BY DENNY McCARTHY
A crowd fills The Village Idiot, which hosted one of eight stages featuring local acts on Sunday.

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — With an unseasonably warm day and clear skies, massive crowds came out to support Acoustics for Autism on March 3.

Project iAm, the nonprofit organization that supports families impacted by autism, hosts the free, outdoor music festival in Maumee every year with the help of volunteers and many donors.

“Our team of volunteers, with a little help from Mother Nature, pulled off a miraculous event,” said Project iAm executive director and founder Nicole Khoury.

According to volunteer Mark Wilson, the motivation to successfully host the event comes from Khoury.

“Her passion becomes everybody else’s passion and that’s why we do it,” Wilson said.

The crowds this year, he said, felt even bigger than they ever have been, with people stopping by the stages, food trucks and vendors on portions of West Dudley Street, Conant Street and West Wayne Street.

At Sunshine Studios, hundreds of children filled the sensory-friendly kids’ area, too.

“This is the most kids we’ve ever had in the sensory-friendly area,” said volunteer and mom Cindy Bachar. “Every year, it has gotten bigger, and it’s just amazing.”

Bachar’s son, Jacob, is a Project iAm grant recipient and is able to receive equine therapy, reading and speech therapy and counseling as a result.

Each year, he and his family have volunteered as a way to give back, and one of his favorite parts of the event is getting to meet other kids like him and help with the various activities in the sensory-friendly space.

“It is so important to us to give back because he is going to be a successful adult because of what we’ve been given through them,” Cindy said of Project iAm.

The importance of an event like Acoustics for Autism for families affected by autism cannot be understated, explained volunteer Kate Schwartz.

“I run the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio. We have a great working relationship with Project iAm and their whole team,” she said.

According to Schwartz, Acoustics for Autism celebrates uniqueness and is a day filled with love. The board for Project iAm emphasizes this by making sure there are things for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy.

With the sensory-friendly area at Sunshine Studios, as well as the space down at the Maumee Indoor Theater, families could find a spot to decompress from the noise and enjoy an afternoon with their community.

In the bier garden tent and silent auction space, adults could enjoy the live music and support the cause.

Additionally, several stages were located indoors at The Village Idiot, Buster Brown’s and The Elks for attendees to find the bands they enjoyed.

With eight stages and 95 musical acts, there was something for everyone, and everyone, it seemed, came out to enjoy it all.

“This crowd was huge,” Wilson said. “We are so thankful for this weather, and we’ve been blessed the last few years.”

While Project iAm is still waiting on final numbers, with the help of the crowd, organizers were able to raise thousands of dollars to support local families.

“All of the families that will benefit from these funds raised are so grateful for your continued support and trust in our mission,” Khoury said. “Thank you for all of the kind words and encouragement for the best event ever.”

Those interested in supporting Project iAm can still donate by visiting acousticsforautism.com for more information.

Additionally, volunteer opportunities are always available and can be found by following the Project iAm Facebook page.

“We are always looking for volunteers. It grows every year, so there is always a need for volunteers, for donations,” Schwartz said.

Those donations or volunteer hours will make a difference, Schwartz emphasized.

“When you have these skyrocketing medical bills, there wasn’t somebody to help you, but now there is. The sky is the limit on potentially what can be covered because of them,” she said. “That is what is amazing about Project iAm. They fill the gap.”

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