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Autism has a Voice

November 30, 2009

My friends Matt and Nikki are amazing, awesome people.  Let’s just start with the statistics: 86% of marriages amongst couples with an autistic child results in divorce. 12% of marriages where the couple loses a child results in divorce.  They’ve experienced both.

They now have a vibrant, strong, exceptionally loving marriage.  Their faith in God is evident.  Their dependence on the family of God got them through some very difficult times, and they now turn around and give generously in every way they can. 

They recently started a non-profit organization called Santino’s Voice, which is aimed at raising money to help other families fund the unique therapy that Tino is receiving right now.  They are also going to eventually use the money to help churches start special needs ministries for children.  Parents with special needs children often feel out of place and uncomfortable bringing their children to a place that isn’t equipped to deal with their needs, so they just don’t come to church.  Matt and Nikki want to change that.

Told you they were awesome.

So… let’s just throw them another curveball, why don’t we?  Now the dang economy cost Matt his job, then he got another one, but it requires that he travel 5 days a week.  Their autistic son is in the middle of some huge changes in his therapy, Nikki is essentially a single parent during the week, Matt only gets to spend family time 2 days a week, and they just moved Matt’s childhood best friend into the basement after he lost his job and house.  It’s a crazy world all around for them.

But you’re about the witness a picture of pure love.   Well, a few pictures… overkill is in my nature…

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Prepare yourself for two EXTREMELY adorable little guys…

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Their beautiful daughter, little Francesca Isabella (I liked to call her Franklin Bean), passed away last year from SIDS. Nikki had this fabulous idea for a way to incorporate their precious angel into their family portraits, so she brought along a bunch of pink balloons. The next few pictures will turn on your waterworks, so get those Kleenex ready.

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Oh, let’s just continue the love fest. Matt, my favorite friend to annoy, recently ran in the Detroit Free Press Marathon, in honor of Tino and as a fundraiser for Santino’s Voice. Seriously, just awesome. Isn’t it? Are you feeling it?! Hopefully these sweet pho-tos will end up being PR photos for the non-profit and website.

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Tino’s aide, Katie, has been such a blessing to their family. They absolutely adore her. It’s obvious the feeling is mutual.

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And then this last one, just because it’s so dang cute.

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