Each month, Culver’s of Valparaiso chooses a different charity to support. For April, that charity was the Autism Society of Indiana. The restaurant sold bracelets throughout the month to customers in an effort to raise funds, and on April 26th hosted a Benefit Day where 10% of sales would go to the charity.
“Any organization that spends time to help others understand autism is awesome,” said Marilyn Christman, manager at Culver’s of Valpo.
Inside Culver’s, the tables had information about autism in homemade frames featuring colored puzzle pieces, the symbol for autism awareness. Next to the fountain drinks was a bulletin board filled with more information about the Autism Society of Indiana.
There are nearly 7,000 families in Porter County who are impacted by autism, and many adults may still be undiagnosed. The Autism Society works to connect families and parents to services in their communities by focusing on educational advocacy. They host a lending library of books and reports that are available to anyone who seeks more knowledge.
“There are quite a few good services here in Valpo,” said Susan Moreno, Autism Society of Indiana representative.
While the restaurant filled with hungry guests, outside in the parking lot sat DJ Weltmeyer, a racecar driver who drives for autism awareness. Standing by his car, Weltmeyer signed autographs and spoke about his dedication to racing for the cause.
“My mom worked with kids on the spectrum for her whole career,” said Weltmeyer, “And the opportunity to raise awareness through my car seemed like an easy thing for me to do that could make a big difference.”
Weltmeyer has been racing for autism awareness for 3 years, and with the help of his mother has been raising money for Indiana families. The Autism Society of Indiana works to raise funds, so that families can access the important information they need cost free.
“I grew up spending time with kids with autism, and to raise money for education to make their lives better means a lot to me,” said Weltmeyer.