Autistic Students to Race Vintage Bentley
How about that for a headline? With the help of our friends at Bentley Motors, we are about to make those words a reality . . .
Many of you already know about my childhood struggles with school, and autism. Today autism is one of the things that makes me a gifted expert on Bentley and other fine motorcars, but as a child my differences were quite disabling. One of the worst things about being an autistic kid was being called retarded, stupid, and defective. It took many years for me to outgrow that stigma and I have resolved to help young people escape it altogether tomorrow.
One way we can do that is by teaching us in ways that work. Our public education system totally failed me, just as it failed my son 10 years ago and it will fail more autistic kids tomorrow. I’ve realized we need more practical focus; more life skills teaching and more hands-on learning. And I’m not just talking - three years ago I partnered in developing a unique school program for kids with autism and other developmental challenges.
Our TCS Auto Program is aimed at career or college prep for young people like me. It’s the only campus I know of that teaches public school students real life skills in an actual work environment, here at JE Robison Service and our Springfield Auto Complex. Our commercial company has established a reputation as a restorer of Bentley motorcars, and it was only natural that we’d teach our students on the cars we love best.
Today I am proud to announce that we are stepping things up a level. One of our long time friends and Bentley clients – Tom Webster of New York – took an interest in our school and its mission. What do you need most, he asked me? We need awareness and public support, I replied.
Why don’t we do something spectacular, he replied? Let’s build a vintage Bentley and race it! And let’s make a movie about what we are doing, and the kids will be the stars! What a cool idea.
That was the genesis of Mexico or Bust! In which we will build a vintage Bentley Continental to race the Carrera Panamericana up the spine of Mexico. It’s one of the premier rallies of the world, and to my amazement, Bentley has never competed.
That’s about to change. Bentley has agreed to support us, and Tom has partnered with FlyHelo to make the movie. Now comes the challenge. We need your support to fund this effort. Many of you have told me how Look Me in the Eye and my other books portray life with autism in a way you never read before. This movie will portray autism in a way you never saw before.
It will be the race of a lifetime for us, and it can be the race of a lifetime for you too, if you join us. Bentley is sponsoring our opening fundraiser at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan on January 19. Please join us in person, and if you can’t we will soon have a website where you can support us online, or by visiting our school.
Contributions to the school are tax deductible; we are a 501©3 nonprofit.
Here’s the invitation from Tom and Bentley. I hope to see a few of you in Manhattan on the 19th!