WHEELING, W.Va. — On Friday, March 27, more than 300 people tuned in to a Facebook Live concert put on by Tim Ullom. There was no band, no lights, just a man with his guitar and microphone that brought hundreds together in a night of unity, all while raising money for the Augusta Levy Learning Center. The fans were chatting and laughing and for the first time in weeks, there was some feeling of normalcy. Ullom took requests throughout the night playing the crowds favorites and at times, was joined by his two sons who danced and helped their dad sing, especially when it came to John Denver’s "Take Me Home Country Roads." Tim’s wife, Kayla, was also present to help with the logistics, such as video and the Tim Ullom Band Logo converted to puzzle pieces for autism awareness. People from as far away as Hawaii and Kansas tuned in to enjoy the uplifting concert. Throughout the concert, Tim paused to talk to fans who tuned in and to ask for donations for the Learning Center stating, "They have given me all I ever wanted, so please help me give a little back to them."

Development Director, Staci Stephen said, "Tim contacted me last week and informed me that he wanted to put on a Facebook live concert. He asked if it would be ok if he donated any tips he received to the Augusta Levy Learning Center. My answer was ‘absolutely’. I don’t think at that time either one of us had any clue of just how much money that would actually be. I tuned in on Friday night and I was in awe as he raised an astronomical amount of money in a very short amount of time. Fundraisers usually take a lot of time and a lot of planning and he had raised almost $1,000 in the first 20 minutes. By the end of hour two, he had raised $5,286 which has since increased to $5,541 since the show. The concert was also a great way to kick off Autism Awareness Month. Following the fire, the Ohio Valley Community wrapped their arms around us and kept us going, but for the community to show up at a time when everyone is struggling is just an amazing feeling and we can’t thank you all enough! We have had to suspend services temporarily due to Covid19 and it has been hard on our families and staff, so to give everyone two hours to forget about all of the negatives was amazing! Thank you to Tim Ullom and to all of you who tuned in and donated!"

Augusta Levy Learning Center is challenging individuals and businesses in the Ohio Valley to use your newfound "free time" to come up with creative ways to "light it up blue" for World Autism Awareness day on Thursday, April 2nd. Wear blue, string blue lights, change your light bulbs to blue, display blue balloons, or even invent a blue treat (for pickup of course). Pictures submitted by April 3rd will be eligible for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Pickles Eatery and Bar and a $25 gift card to The Bridge Tavern. Participants should send pictures to stacistephen@gmail.com by end of the day on April 3rd. All pictures will be added to the ALLC Facebook page. The picture with the most "Likes" by 5p.m. on April 30th will win both gift cards. Let’s use this time to be a hero for autism and help raise awareness!

The costs per year for children with ASD in the U.S. are estimated to be between 11.5 billion and 60.9 billion that can be broken down to $40-60 thousand per child per year. With the Median Household Income in West Virginia falling almost $17,000 below the national average at $43,469, this presents huge obstacles for families of individuals with ASD. In 2011, the West Virginia legislature passed the Autism Insurance Law requiring public and private insurance companies to pay for the diagnosis and treatment of autism; however, self-funded insurance plans are exempt from the state law and in some cases require an astronomical amount for co-payments and deductibles before they will cover services. Some families have been required to pay $60-$90 a day in co-payments for a total of $1200-$1800 a month and $14,400-$21,600 a year respectively. Lack of funding combined with lack of treatment programs means that fewer than 4% of children with autism are receiving effective treatment in West Virginia. Augusta Levy works to decrease the financial gap for families. That is why every penny that is raised is a crucial piece to the autism puzzle. Please consider helping ALLC raise awareness for a disorder that has become more prevalent than Juvenile Diabetes, childhood cancer, and AIDS in children COMBINED! If 8,400 landmarks and buildings can "Light it up Blue," so can YOU!

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communications. ASD often comes with multiple other conditions such as anxiety, seizures and epilepsy, OCD, gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep problems, motor difficulties, and ADHD just to name a few. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 54 individuals have been identified with ASD. ASD is four times more common among boys than among girls and is growing at a rate of 10-17% every year.

If your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or if you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. DON’T WAIT! To learn some of the red flags to watch for, you can visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/