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Soup’r Bands rocks out to raise awareness, money ……..article by Post Star.com

12 HOURS AGO • RHONDA TRILLER RTRILLER@POSTSTAR.COM

LAKE GEORGE Kristin Howarth was like many other expectant mothers, dreaming of all the things she and her husband would do with their twins: sporting events, amusement park trips, festivals.

When her sons Gavin and Noah, 11, were diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at age 2, though, those hopes changed.

“You think of all the things you’re going to do with your child, but then you have a child with autism and you think of all the things you aren’t going to be able to do,” she said. “And we’re trying to change that.”

Howarth and her husband, Jesse, founded Upstate NY Autism Alliance, a group dedicated to providing everyday experiences for families in a way children on the spectrum can best enjoy them.

The alliance, which the Howarths created nine years ago, is the main beneficiary of Soup’r Bands, which will be held Saturday at Roaring Brook Ranch. The event is one of the group’s two fundraisers each year.

The seventh Soup’r Bands features live music from 12 bands, raffles, barbecue and a competition of soups from area restaurants.

In its first six years, Soup’r Bands has raised about $100,000, founder Andrea Jacobs-Merlow said. Eighty percent of profits are donated to Upstate NY Autism Alliance and 20 percent is given to autism awareness groups in Greenwich and Hadley-Luzerne.

“They’re very isolated and don’t receive a lot of funds,” she said of the donation to the two outlying areas. “The communities are a bit lacking in resources.”

It’s something Howarth discovered about the region not long after her sons’ diagnoses.

“We floundered for a while, then hit the ground running, trying to get resources and found there weren’t many in our area, I had to go to Albany,” she said.

That proved difficult, with an hour’s drive each way and two not-easy-to-manage toddlers.

“We’re both very resourceful, we brought the kids to see specialists, and it made me sad people in this area aren’t able to get the information I am,” Howarth said. “I want to help these kids, I want to help these families.”

So, with Upstate NY Autism Alliance, she offers programming that includes tumbling, music and art therapy, theater, adaptive sports and excursions — all at no cost, or for a small fee.

“When you have a child with special needs, sometimes those things are difficult,” she said.

Howarth gave a recent trip to Six Flags Great Escape Lodge’s indoor water park as an example. With admission for each family member and lunch, the cost of a day trip can add up quickly. The noise and constant action at the park could become problematic for a child on the spectrum, so families might not risk spending that kind of money to have to leave after only a few minutes.

The group was able to provide the trip free of charge.

“There’s a lot of factors going to a family outing when your child has special needs, so we go in to ease that for them, so they can have a typical family experience, like everyone else,” Howarth said.

Upstate NY Autism Alliance also hosts experts in autism for educational programming, inviting the community to attend.

“With the numbers (of children diagnosed as being on the spectrum) increasing the way they are, they’re going to be out, so any awareness we can bring is a win-win for everybody,” she said.

IF YOU GO

The seventh annual Soup’r Bands event kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Roaring Brook Ranch in Lake George. The event features 12 live musical acts, two bars, raffles, barbecue and a soup competition. Soup’r Bands benefits Upstate NY Autism Alliance and Autism Task Forces of Hadley-Luzerne and Greenwich. Tickets are $25 at the door, or $20 in advance and are available at Roaring Brook Ranch, The Full Moon on Glens Lake, Core Fitness in Glens Falls or Bullpen Tavern in Glens Falls.