Northern Michigan Events: Mackinac Bridge to Light It Blue for Autism

Northern Michigan Events: See it in lights! Mackinac Bridge will look even more spectacular than usual as it begins the "Light it Blue Michigan" autism awareness campaign on April 2nd, 2012, in honor of Global Autism Awareness Day. Take part in the special bridge-viewing ceremony starting at 8:00 p.m. at the St. Ingnace Country Club and help raise awareness for this very worthy cause.

"Light It Blue Michigan" is an autism-awareness campaign launched by Corner Pieces, a non-profit organization based in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, dedicated to improving the well being of children and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue at sundown on April 2nd in honor of Global Autism Awareness Day to kick off the month-long campaign.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA), in partnership with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Corner Pieces, and the Autistic Children's Treatment Network (ACT), will host a special public bridge-viewing ceremony at the St. Ignace Country Club in St. Ignace on April 2nd beginning at 8:00 p.m.

"This is another important milestone involving the Mackinac Bridge and the health of Michigan citizens," said William H. Gnodtke, MBA Board Chair. "By being a part of this great program, hopefully we will not only raise awareness about autism, but also help increase support for families coping with this disorder."

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, an outspoken advocate of expanding Michigan's health care coverage for children affected by autism, will be the featured speaker at the event. "Setting our state's most iconic structure aglow in blue will send a strong message about the importance of helping children with autism," said Calley, whose 5-year-old daughter Reagan is being treated for autism. "I greatly appreciate Light It Blue Michigan's work to highlight this vital health issue." Additional speakers are expected to include Corner Pieces President Ben Duff, ACT President Murray D. Wikol, DTE Energy officials, and others.

ACT President Murray D. Wikol and his wife Nannette, known as pioneers in the fight to diagnose and treat autism, are sponsoring the ceremony at the St. Ignace Country Club. Since 1995, Wikol has shared his passion throughout the United States and abroad by investing heavily in autism research and education. Wikol also is the longest-serving member of the MBA Board. The Wikol's daughter Anika was diagnosed with autism when she was 14 months old.

ASD is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects a child's ability to communicate and socialize with others, and usually appears within a child's first three years. Over 15,000 children in Michigan have autism, fourth-largest in the U.S. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined; there is no medical detection or cure for autism.

In addition to the Mackinac Bridge, other locations participating in "Light It Blue Michigan" include the GM Renaissance Center, DTE Energy offices, the Motor City Casino, Madonna University, and Wayne State University. For more information, visit the campaign's website at www.lightitbluemichigan.com.

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