Rainbows were everywhere in Laois and Offaly for a special day recently championing autism support.
LOFFA (Laois Offaly Families for Autism) held their first annual Rainbow Day fundraiser on April 29, and the support was terrific from schools and businesses across their communities.
The total is still being counted but Breda Murray has delightedly confirmed that it has raised €19,000 so far.
“I am very grateful for, but not surprised by the support the people of Laois and Offaly have given Rainbow Day. They have never been found wanting when the LOFFA call for support goes out,” she said.
Although initially only primary and secondary schools were asked to participate, the word spread that LOFFA needed support.
That is when "the magic started to happen" said Breda.
"Playschools, workplaces, nursing homes, members of the public all came forward to ask about holding a Rainbow Day or about how to donate to LOFFA. The goodwill was overwhelming,” she said.
The money is going to be transformative.
€19,000 is enough to subsidise a weekly session of occupational or speech or play therapy for each child in LOFFA for the rest of the year. LOFFA currently supports 75 Laois and Offaly families, each with a child, or children, with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The secondary schools who raised money included St Fergal’s College Rathdowney and Scoil Chríost Rí.
Portlaoise College are nearly finished a 100k in May fundraiser, with proceeds to be split between the school fund and LOFFA.
Primary schools celebrating Rainbow day included St Fintan’s, Barnashrone and Newtown NS.
Portlaoise Mail Centre held a Rainbow Day and donated €1,040.
While deeply appreciative of the financial support LOFFA has received, Breda said the most heartening result is the strength of public awareness and acceptance of autism.
"To see the awareness and the inclusivity start in the preschools and be nurtured through the education system gives us all so much hope for the future.
"Between preschools, schools, nursing homes and workplaces it goes to show that many families across Laois Offaly have been touched in some way by autism. The future is bright for LOFFA, the future is rainbow," she said.
LOFFA say they stand ready and willing to support any family with a child with a diagnosis of ASD. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for membership information.
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