Let me tell you about Ryann...
Ryann was diagnosed with autism at 11 years old, and throughout her teens, she faced various challenges when it came to socializing and communicating. Like most people, all Ryann has ever wanted is to fit in and be accepted for who she is. As her parents, we never gave up hope that she would find her place in this world. We encouraged her to embrace her uniqueness and be herself.
Ryann has worked hard over the last few years to manage her social anxiety and depression. Her efforts paid off when she got accepted into the University of Arizona. We were all nervous about her moving 104 miles away from Mom and starting college after spending the last two years in online high school. And honestly, that first semester was difficult for all of us. She struggled to find her place, and we struggled, not knowing how much to help and how much to let her handle on her own.
Ryann finally found her place at U of A when she joined Alpha Chi Omega (AXO), a sorority that welcomed and embraced her. In AXO, Ryann found a community of supportive and caring friends who helped her navigate college life and thrive. Now, she is a sophomore and just went through the recruitment process from the other side. She had to be the one to welcome the next class. Twenty-one rounds of "interviewing" and getting to know recruits, and Ryann participated in 19 of those rounds! The other Sophomores did 8-10 rounds.
One of the most painful memories of my life came two years ago this month. We threw Ryann a party for her 18th birthday party. She invited some "friends" and old teammates, but no one showed up. I did not think any of us would ever recover from that. I still want to cry when I think about it. I am telling you this because I got a text from Ryann this week that made me cry again, but they were happy tears this time.
The text said, " I am so happy. I have friends now."
Getting Ryann into therapy and intervening as soon as we had her diagnosis was instrumental in getting her to this place. SARRC and its resources and team of exceptional clinicians do this for kids daily. I am asking each of you to help me raise funds to continue this work. If you can donate $25, $50, $100- it all adds up, and we can make a difference for autism in Arizona.
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