Award-winning Latina Recording Artist JACI VELASQUEZ teamed up with Autism Speaks™ as the official spokesperson for 2013’s Tennessee Walk Now fundraiser.
As spokesperson she represented Autism Speaks Tennessee at several major fall events, including the Autism Speaks™ Kick-Off Celebration, the Autism Speaks™ Presents Autism Sings! concert, and the Autism Speaks™ Tennessee Walk Now fundraiser in Nashville, Tenn. As spokesperson, she spoke about her involvement with the organization, performed at various events, and participated in the Walk Now’s ribbon cutting ceremonies and walk.
“I am honored and humbled to take on the responsibilities of being the spokesperson of 2013,” said Jaci. “Although the emotions that I am feeling are unfamiliar and uncharted, I find comfort and unwavering support through my faith, family and both old and new friends alike.”
In recent months, Jaci’s five year-old son, Zealand, who entered kindergarten this fall, was diagnosed by the Nashville school system as having autism. As a result, Jaci became more aware of the impact an autism diagnosis has on families. She decided to invest in statewide support of these children and their families, by teaming up with Autism Speaks™.
“Coming to terms with a child’s diagnosis, especially when it’s your child, is not an easy thing to do right off the bat,” explained Jaci. “We are all living in a society where labels hold a significant amount of influence. By associating with Autism Speaks™, I can champion an advocacy organization that sponsors autism research, hosts awareness and outreach activities for families and the public, and is working to change the way the nation looks at autism.”
Once Jaci and her musician husband, Nic Gonzales, discovered the incredible, individualized educational program the Nashville School District offers to families with autistic and other special needs children, they began to feel more comfortable that Zealand would have a wonderful support system in which he can learn and thrive.
“What Zealand has taught me, and continues to teach me each day is that societal labels don’t mean a thing,” said Jaci. “I see and hear ‘genius’ when I read and hear ‘autistic’. Being diagnosed with autism is to be presented with an original gift. My mission is to harvest the gifts that Zealand has been given and not overlook them. I will not overlook Zealand’s gift, and I want to encourage everyone else too…DO NOT MISS THE GIFT!!”
To learn more about Jaci Velasquez, visit: https://www.facebook.com/JaciVelasquezOfficial
About Jaci Velasquez:
Jaci has three RIAA® certified Platinum® albums, three RIAA® certified Gold® albums, 16 number one singles, 6 singles in the top 10, 7 Dove Awards, 2 Latin Grammy® Award nominations, 3 Grammy® Award nominations, has graced more than 50 magazine covers including Teen People, Latin Girl, Teen Beat, Parade, and People In Espanol, has appeared in ads for Pepsi, Doritos, Target, and is the co-host of the syndicated morning show, “The Family Friendly Morning Show with Doug and Jaci Velasquez” on Today’s CMR Network with more than 1.5 million daily listeners.
About Autism Speaks™:
Autism Speaks™ is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and best treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. To learn more about Autism Speaks™, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.