SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Saratoga’s Nashville held a fundraiser for autism awareness on Saturday.
Customers enjoyed a special menu, live music and more while supporting a good cause. All proceeds from the event are donated to the Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region.
Nashville has only been open since July of last year, but owners Mike and Carolyn Crowley knew from the start that it was something they wanted to do. Carolyn’s son, who is Mike’s stepson, has autism, so for them it’s a very personal cause.
“April is Autism Awareness Month, so naturally we wanted to do something in April,” Mike explained. “We’ve been planning this from the start.”
For the Crowleys, awareness is important. It is a priority for them to help others understand autism and see people, not disability.
“I think people don’t really understand autism,” Mike speculated. “There are so many different levels, so I think it’s hard for people to really understand it. I’m still learning about it, even five or six years into my relationship with my stepson.
“As a parent, it’s one of those things you deal with every day when you’re out,” Carolyn added. “I don’t want to have to keep explaining it. My son is like everyone else. He’s no different from the rest of us.
Autism is a complex neurological condition that is classified as a “spectrum disorder” because there is a very wide range of symptoms and severities. Some people have mild symptoms that they can manage with learned coping strategies, allowing them to have a routine daily life.
Some people have severe symptoms that require daily support services. And there is everything in between.
The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting “lifelong access and opportunity for people with autism and their families, so they can participate fully , including members of their communities… through advocacy, public awareness, education and compassionate support.
A portion of the proceeds from all food and beverage sales at the Nashville event, as well as all funds from other event sources, are donated to their cause.
From noon to midnight in Saratoga’s Nashville, there was great food, live music and al fresco dining opportunities under warm, clear skies. There were many donation opportunities. Donation jars were behind bars. All funds from mechanical bull rides, raffle tickets and a silent auction were donated. Customers had the option of rounding their bills to the nearest dollar, and change was offered.
To help make the day a success, Nashville received lots of support from local businesses. The bands playing that day all gave their time, as did the DJ. Several companies donated items for the raffle baskets. A free beer tasting for Saranac, White Claw and Truly was held as another fun way to entice customers inside.
“Everybody’s been really good about it,” Mike said of the community effort. “We are really happy to have a good day. The weather is cooperating and it’s a chance for us to do something good and fun.
In Nashville, TN, there is a famous mural of angel wings that has started a trend with some local restaurants. Venues that feature angel wings in their establishment will often donate to musical artists and music-related causes. Appropriate, given the location. Here in the spa town, Nashville of Saratoga has its own wings, and the Crowleys use them to symbolically be “guardian angels” for autism awareness.
Mike says he plans to hold an autism awareness event every year, making each one bigger and better than the last.
For more information about the Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region, visit their website at https://www.asgcr.org/.