Celebrating #Steps2Acceptance across the area

Celebrating #Steps2Acceptance across the area

Published on September 4, 2016

On Sept. 24, API will gather with the community for a fun, festive day celebrating the #Steps2Acceptance we are all taking to support those with autism. Mark your calendar and join us from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wahoos Stadium for walking, face painting, games, bounce houses, food, music, sensory tents, Imagination Station, and awareness merchandise— just to scratch the surface of FUN!

Leading up to the event, we are recognizing businesses, organizations, and individuals who go above and beyond to support and accept those living with autism. The idea all began with a story on Facebook from mom Samantha Cedotal about an employee at TCBY on Bayou Boulevard. A discontinued treat could have meant a meltdown for Samantha’s son, Taiven, who had worked hard to earn his trip to the yogurt shop. But employee Edward Thomas recognized what it would mean to this child and his family if he went the extra mile. Instead of saying, “Sorry, we don’t do that anymore,” he found a way to help Taiven make another choice and, in turn, made a new friend. His story was fea- tured on WEAR’s “Angels in our Midst.”

Sacred Heart Hospital’s Emergency Room has gone above and beyond to become autism-friendly. Sarah Penaloza found out first-hand when her son, Isaac, fell and broke his ankle. She said that from the EMTs to the physicians and nurses in the ER, every- one worked so well with her son. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, we will be presenting Sacred Heart with #Steps2Acceptance certificate.

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are known as community leaders. Recently, they selected an autistic young adult to be a “Wahoo for a Day.” Scott Knecht, is a recent Milton High graduate and a can- cer survivor. On Aug. 25, he was invited to don a Wahoos uniform and sit with the team during a game. That evening, Susan Byram, President/CEO of API, along with members of her board, presented a #Steps2Acceptance certificate to the team.

The certificate recognizes both their recognition of Scott as the Wahoo for a Day and their ongoing efforts to hire individuals with autism. API is grateful for the longtime support of this great community institution.

All around the community, businesses and other organizations are reaching out and taking #Steps2Acceptance. We are grateful to Publix on Ninth Avenue, The Bodacious Olive, Ronald McDonald House, Manna Food Pantries, The Fish House, Marcus Pointe Baptist Church, and the Naval Aviation Schools Command, NAS Pensacola, for their efforts.

Please keep using the #Steps2Acceptance anytime you have a story of acceptance and understanding in our community. We want to keep highlighting the difference makers wherever we see them!


If you are interested in starting a team for Steps for Autism and spread #Steps2Acceptance, here are some fundraising tips:

  • Go to autismpensacola.org/steps.html and follow the steps to create a team
  • Start an online T-shirt sale – Create your team T-shirt and encourage family and friends to purchase the shirt to support Steps! Some T-shirt fundraising sites include Booster.com, tfund.com, tstacker.com, bonfirefunds.com
  • Pick up a coin canister at Autism Pensacola – then take it to your favorite business, place of worship, school and collect donations
  • Puzzle Ribbon Sign sales – Go to autismpensacola.org for details
  • Bake Sale – Everyone loves baked goods!
  • Brown Bag Lunch week – Encourage coworkers to bring their lunch from home for one week. Donate the money they would have spent to the team.
  • Social Media Challenge – Make a challenge on social media to your friends and family.