By Mira Reverente
Autism Care and Treatment (ACT) Today!, the nation’s leading autism non-profit group, will host “Denim & Diamonds for Autism” for the 9th year in a row on Oct. 19 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village.
What started as a fundraiser in founder and executive director’s Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson’s backyard in Hidden Hills is now a glitzy, catered dinner affair with a silent auction and live entertainment, featuring the Ventura Jazz Orchestra. Hosted by KTLA-TV, entertainment reporter Sam Rubin will be emceeing this year’s semi-formal event.
“I just called everyone I knew and they came,” said Alspaugh-Jackson, remembering that backyard affair in 2006 with 100 of her closest friends, neighbors and colleagues. The event brought in $30,000.
Jackson’s son Wyatt, now 12, was diagnosed with moderate autism when he was four. “It was considered a late diagnosis at that time and I felt like a bad mom for not seeing the early signs,” she said.
The fundraiser has grown by leaps and bounds every year, raising a total of $1.5 million since 2006. “We try to make it bigger and better each year, adding a tweak here and there,” said Daphne Plump, event executive producer and publicist.
There will be five honorees this year–something that hasn’t been done previously. Actress and author Holly Robinson-Peete tops the distinguished list, which also includes Peete’s husband and former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, actor Nolan Gould, singer-songwriter Sophie Rose and visionary Virginia Viola, who will receive a special tribute.
“I think when you ask from the heart, people respond well,” said Alspaugh-Jackson. ACT Today! raises funds to help provide direct care and treatment to children and families dealing with autism. The money also helps provide access to behavioral therapy, medical care, assistance dogs, safety equipment, assistive technology, tuition for special needs schools, among others.
For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.