- "Light It Blue Michigan" autism-awareness campaign begins April 2.
- Special bridge-viewing ceremony begins at 8 p.m. at the St. Ignace Country Club; Mackinac Bridge officials will "Light It Blue" at approximately 9:15 p.m.
- Over 15,000 children in Michigan have autism, fourth-largest in the U.S.
- More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined; there is no medical detection or cure for autism.
March 28, 2012 -- The Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA), in partnership with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Corner Pieces, and the Autistic Children's Treatment Network (ACT), will host a special public bridge-viewing ceremony at the St. Ignace Country Club in St. Ignace on April 2 in honor of Global Autism Awareness Day.
"Light It Blue Michigan" is an autism-awareness campaign launched by Corner Pieces, a non-profit organization based in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., dedicated to improving the well being of children and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue at sundown on April 2 to kick off the month-long campaign.
"This is another important milestone involving the Mackinac Bridge and the health of Michigan citizens," said William H. Gnodtke, MBA Board Chair. "By being a part of this great program, hopefully we will not only raise awareness about autism, but also help increase support for families coping with this disorder."
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, an outspoken advocate of expanding Michigan's health care coverage for children affected by autism, will be the featured speaker at the event. "Setting our state's most iconic structure aglow in blue will send a strong message about the importance of helping children with autism," said Calley, whose 5-year-old daughter Reagan is being treated for autism. "I greatly appreciate Light It Blue Michigan's work to highlight this vital health issue." Additional speakers are expected to include Corner Pieces President Ben Duff, ACT President Murray D. Wikol, DTE Energy officials, and others.
ACT President Murray D. Wikol and his wife Nannette, known as pioneers in the fight to diagnose and treat autism, are sponsoring the ceremony at the St. Ignace Country Club. Since 1995, Wikol has shared his passion throughout the United States and abroad by investing heavily in autism research and education. Wikol also is the longest-serving member of the MBA Board. The Wikol's daughter Anika was diagnosed with autism when she was 14 months old.
ASD is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects a child's ability to communicate and socialize with others, and usually appears within a child's first three years.
In addition to the Mackinac Bridge, other locations participating in "Light It Blue Michigan" include the GM Renaissance Center, DTE Energy offices, the Motor City Casino, Madonna University, and Wayne State University. For more information, visit the campaign's Web site at www.lightitbluemichigan.com.
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