Tony and Mary Lou Cancellieri were blessed to have eight wonderful grandchildren, but when their three-year-old, Louis, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, they weren’t sure what to do. “These children will become adults,” said Mary Lou. “What will their lives be like?”
After doing a great deal of research, they came to a solution. “We try as any grandparents to help their kids,” said Tony. “The most important thing is to raise awareness.”
So they started a grassroots campaign, RVC Blue Speaks, to get the word out and to help raise money for autism research. Partnering with the national organization, Autism Speaks, RVC Blue Speaks is a local campaign that is part of the Long Island Autism Speaks Chapter.
Forming a committee that includes their three children, Lisa Carroll, Jennifer Obando and Robert Cancellieri, as well as their spouses, Pat Carroll, Carlos Obando and Stephanie Cancellieri, Mayor Francis X. Murray, his wife, Barbara, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, John and Loretta Cameron, Dana and Jon Sannerman and Judy Boyd; the Cancellieris plan to organize local fundraising and awareness events.
First in their plans is to participate in the upcoming Autism Speaks walk in Long Beach on Oct. 2, where they have already raised over $4,000 going to the charity.
Looking forward, they are organizing a January fundraiser in Rockville Centre, and a wine and cocktail fundraiser at the Coral House on Apr. 1 for National Autism Awareness Month. For more information and updates on RVC Blue Speaks, check out their Facebook page.