STAATSBURG — Abby Edwards, a teenager from East Moriches, announced plans to expand a successful “Pajama Day” fundraiser initiative, originally based on Long Island, to the Hudson Valley region. The event, which has raised more than $6,500 for Anderson Center for Autism over the past few years, is scheduled this year for April 12.
Edwards developed the concept in honor of her brother, a resident at Anderson Center for Autism. Since the event’s inception, Edwards has secured the participation of hundreds of students, teachers, and staff who donate funds for the right to wear pajamas to school in honor of autism awareness. This year, Edwards is working to secure the participation of student-run clubs from Hudson Valley school districts in order to grow the impact. Henry H Wells Middle School in Brewster and Anderson Center for Autism have signed on as participants, and Edwards is awaiting formal approvals from others in the region. New participants will be joined by East Quogue Elementary School, East Moriches Middle School, East Moriches Elementary School, and Starbright Children’s Center in the effort to raise money and heighten awareness.
“My brother Riley is a full-time resident at Anderson Center for Autism, and I wanted to do something to help the organization that has made such an impact on his life. Beyond that, I want people to understand what autism is, and how people’s lives are touched,” said Edwards. “I have used a Power-Point presentation to help educate people about the event. Every person who wants to wear pajamas to school on Pajama Day donates $2, whether they are students, teachers, or staff. All of the funds go directly to Anderson Foundation for Autism in honor of my brother.”
Robert Long, Superintendent and Principal at East Quogue Central School District, reflected, “We are honored and excited to participate in the fundraiser. We know what an important cause this is supporting and our students are excited to make a difference.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, prevalence rates for Autism Spectrum Disorder are now 1 in 59. The neurological disorder presents with social, communication, and behavioral challenges; Anderson Center for Autism is a not-for-profit organization that provides full-time residential care as well as vocational, educational, and clinical services for those impacted. Its mission is to optimize the quality of life for people with autism.
“Abby sets a wonderful example for all of us, using her good heart and energy to make a difference in the lives of others. Her family reports that she is her brother Riley’s biggest fan - and truth be told, we’re likewise all huge fans of Abby. She understands the importance of educating others about Autism, and the fact that programs and services require funding and support. Abby is an exceptional young lady; we’re grateful to have her as part of the Anderson Center for Autism family,” said Patrick Paul, CEO/Executive Director, Anderson Center for Autism.
Schools that wish to participate can read more here. For more information on Anderson Center for Autism, call 845.889.9208 or visit andersoncenterforautism.org, where donations can be earmarked for this project by notating “Abby’s Pajama Day” in the ‘special instructions’ section of the website.