2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
In 2003, Mark Anselmo’s son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with a disorder that wasn’t very prevalent at the time – autism. Mark and his wife felt isolated as time progressed and, after searching for support without much success, decided to create a non-profit organization to promote acceptance, build awareness, and develop understanding and opportunity for the autistic community. Initially, Our Nicholas Foundation focused on providing specialized supplies and tools to special needs classrooms. Over the past twelve years, the organization’s reach has expanded to include resource fairs, parent and family support groups, sensory friendly movie nights and after school programming.
Mark’s connection to the organization is deep and his commitment to supporting autistic children and their families in the community is unwavering. He manages all operations of the Our Nicholas Foundation, which has allowed the group to function with few overhead expenses for the past fourteen years. Mark builds ties to local government and acts as a liaison with school districts, promoting autism awareness and education wherever he goes. Autism can be very expensive for families to cope with; the Our Nicholas Foundation does not charge families for programming and even seeks ways to offset expenses for therapies, technology assistive devices and other supplies. The group recently opened the doors on its Autism Resource and Event Center, and Mark continues to look forward with plans to offer a tech center for the autistic community in the coming years.