• Jacquie Mace, Founder of the Autism Society of McLean County entered our lives when Jon was coming off of an all- time high after raising $1581. 25 for Autism Awareness and making plans to start his sophomore year of high school. Although Jon had that amazing smile even with braces, there was still lingering doubts about why autism continued to affect his ability to make friends and feel like a part of the group, really any group.

    In August 2008, we received a phone call that would permanently alter Jon’s perception of himself. It was Jacquie Mace calling to tell us Jon would be receiving an award from the Autism Society at a dinner event to be held at the BPAC. Well let me tell you that getting our family dressed for that evening was like getting ready for the Oscars. Jon was presented with the Inspiration Award. This was the first award given to him that wasn’t just for participation. We hung that plaque in our family room and it became the focal point of every conversation when someone came to our home.

    Jon had always been afraid to tell people he had autism, combined with this exceptional honor and the media coverage given for his Autism Awareness Concert Jon moved quickly up the social ladder at school. All the sudden it was cool to like the boy with autism. And Jon finally had what he had prayed for every night in Jr High, he was popular.

    Jacquie has supported the H.E.A.L. Foundation with her world of knowledge on all things about Autism. She has met with us several times to help us navigate through the process of becoming a 501 C 3 recognized charity. Her advice and counsel has been a tremendous source of comfort. As a matter of fact Jacquie arranged for H.E.A.L. to be in this beautiful ballroom tonight with just ONE phone call.

    Jacquie Mace for your gift of friendship to our family and the countless other families in Central, IL we present you with our HERO AWARD for giving Jon the gift of Autism Acceptance.