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Exotic Cars Highlight Autism Center's Toy Drive

Special event delights kids with help from lacrosse team, Warren fire fighters and even Santa.

Children with autism and their families were in awe as more than 30 Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis and other exotic sports cars rolled into the parking lot at the Autism Medical Center in Warren on Dec. 23 for a holiday toy drive.

Members of the Driving Force Club (DFC) revved their engines to the delight of the crowd as they proudly showed their exotic cars. President of DFC, Hovik Gevorgyan, along with distinguished member, Teddy Pecoraro, coordinated the car show with Sheri Haiken, executive director of the Autism Medical Center. Members of the DFC graciously donated hundreds of toys to the Center which brought smiles to the faces of more than 40 children with special needs and their families. 

The Hills Lacrosse Team also arrived in uniform with arms full of gifts after winning a local game.

“I am proud of these gifted young men and the fact that they appreciate how important it is to give back to those who have not been afforded the same opportunity, said Vince DeNave, head coach.  

Undoubtedly, the most meaningful moment for a parent of a young boy with autism was watching the lacrosse teammates interact and play ball with her son, Jonny.  

“For a child with autism, it's hard for them to develop these types of relationships because they just don't know how," Marcia Weiner, Jonny’s mother, explained. "And many times, they might feel they just don't belong, although they can't say why. So when you take the time to interact with one of our special kids—play with them, laugh, joke, or just toss a ball—you're giving them the most wonderful gift of all...friendship and feeling they're just part of the team.”

The holiday event showcased the array of therapeutic activities offered at the Center including Music Therapy by Jammin Jenn, Yoga by Ashrams for Autism and Art Therapy.  

A surprise visit from Santa and the Warren Township fire truck added to the excitement for all guests. The children were invited to participate in the all activities, sit in the exotic cars and climb aboard the fire truck.

Most of all, they were beaming with delight as they selected gifts from the mountainous piles of donated toys. 

Submitted by Sheri Haiken

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