The year was 1996. Paolo and Clara Aquilini were informed by doctors that one of their children suffered from autism. Its more formal name is Autism Spectrum disorder, in part because there is in fact a wide variance in how the disease affects individuals. In British Columbia, thousands of children are currently living with autism, and the North American population generally sees one in 68 children born with it, with nearly four times as many boys being diagnosed than girls. Difficulties, to varying degrees, in social interaction and both verbal and non-verbal communication are the hallmarks of autism.
The Aquilinis sought a mechanism for supporting families who have been afflicted with this disease, and for a broad range of educational outreach. So, the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) was formed, and continues to grow each year in scope and depth. Offerings range from arts and sports activities, to overnight events on Vancouver Island, to youth and young adult programs.
This year, CAN is announcing the inaugural CAN Reveal Gala, on September 24, 2015. It will take place at Rogers Arena, and will include comprehensive representation from Canucks Sports and Entertainment. The arena will be transformed into a venue befitting a crowd of 500 people, and will “reveal” to the assembled the challenges, current research, and family hopes pertaining to life with autism. “Since 2008, we have worked tirelessly to provide high-quality, community-level support to families living with autism in British Columbia,” says president and CEO Katy Harandi. “We have been fortunate to attract hundreds of trained and dedicated individuals who provide the necessary support to the over 2,000 families currently accessing our programs. However, with over 10,000 children and youth living with autism in B.C., there is still much work to be done … Our ultimate goal is to reach every household affected by autism in this province, but we cannot do it alone.”
It will be a special evening, with Canucks executive chef Robert Bartley, West restaurant executive chef Quang Dang, and West bar manager Sabrine Dhaliwal all pitching in to ensure a splendid time is had by all.