Jeff Bricker served an important role in Jon’s growth from a young man with an idea to a founder of a successful foundation. When Jon came up with the idea of putting on a concert to raise autism awareness and acceptance as his confirmation project at the age of 15, Geralyn and I privately came up with all kinds of reasons that we should not encourage such a massive undertaking. We were afraid that if the idea wasn’t embraced and attended by the community that it would break his heart. Later that night, Geralyn stayed up all night and created a contract that told him we would finance his endeavor by providing food, decorations and the printing of professional brochures and tickets. She left it on his pillow. She later wrote a letter about Jon’s Autism Awareness Concert and mailed it to 100 of our family and friends.
It was important that Jon take some ownership in raising funds, so we challenged him to go out into the neighborhood and go door to door to solicit funds for his concert. For someone with Asperger’s, making eye contact and speaking to strangers, especially adult strangers, is a huge challenge. But he bravely left our house and came home several hours later with a little cash and a new friend for life.
The Bricker’s lived around the corner from us, and when Jon approached Jeff who was mowing his lawn and Jon told him ALL about his plans, Jeff saw something special in this young man. You see, the day before Jon met Jeff, the Bricker’s received the diagnosis that their son, Sean, was autistic. Jeff and Jon built a fast friendship. Jeff did so much for Jon that we will never know. They would meet and talk for hours about the future of the foundation after that first concert.
We do know that Jeff accompanied Jon to the bank and helped him open a bank account to receive funding and set up a post office box for H.E.A.L, he even hired a professional photographer to take pictures when Jon spoke in Springfield. Jeff was a true mentor to Jon, encouraging him to dream big. After working for a few years at Chuck E. Cheese, Jeff helped Jon secure a position as a live in camp counselor at Timber Point Outdoor Center, as an employee for Easter Seals. He personally drove Jon there for the interview. It was the best summer of his life.
For being the adult mentor who believed in Jon’s dreams, the H.E.A.L. Foundation is proud to present this Hero Award to Jeff Bricker.