Local Gala Supporting Area Children with Autism A Success

28 04 2012

By Hilda Clark Bowen

With 2008 figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control that autism is occurring now in 1 out of 88 children, and with April being Autism Awareness Month, the 6th Annual Boots and Bling Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012, spread the message that “we are all in this together.” Hosted by The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center and generously sponsored by Altus and ZT Wealth, Including Kids, Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization, was able to raise approximately $160,000, all of which will go towards supporting Houston-area children with autism and other developmental disabilities realize their full potential through their full-time intensive one-on-one program, multiple inclusion programs, after-school tutoring, free community outreach and developmental programs, free parent training, sibling support groups and so much more.

There was something for every one of the 300 attendees. The classrooms created baskets for silent auction to compete for a paid lunch off campus. Fun games qualified winners for a variety of prizes. Busy bid boards hosted a large array of varied packages.

Busy bid boards

The live auction items included unique trips and dinners, but it was a video message from actor Mario Lopez (click here to see his video to our guests inviting gala attendees to be generous in their bidding to spend a fun day with him during taping of the show “Extra” that met with not only loud enthusiasm, but also a very high bid. State Representative Dan Huberty offered dinner at The Veranda for another high bidder. Pat and Ray’s Studio provided pictures of the children in their boots and bling.

Teacher Courtney Simon and student Patrick Bowen, courtesy of Pat and Ray's Studio

Including Kids could not be successful without the support of its generous sponsors and donors. Emcee for the evening was the wonderful Dean Ryan of Insperity. In attendance were ZT Wealth’s Kraig Killough and his wife, Mary, who brought along Houston Texans Chester Pitts and LaToya Hutchins. Also in attendance were Innovative Solutions, Clint Fowler, and his wife Jamie, Insperity’s Corrin Price and her husband Joe, Clint and Christle Johnson, Mark and Allison Elliott and Including Kids board members. All showed their altruistic support of Including Kids through sponsorships, auction purchases and donations. Enthusiastic volunteers from Best Buy extended a helping hand to ensure everyone had a good time.

(L to R) Clint & Kathy Fowler, Kraig Killough, Jennifer Dantzler, Sounia Sememar

The Woodlands residents: Jean Paul & Wendy Buisine, and Michelle & Gordon Dobson (also Board members of Including Kids)

As Jennifer Dantzler, BCBA, M.S.Ed., Executive Director of Including Kids, addressed the crowd, things turned quite emotional. She thanked not only the people who support the school, but also the parents who entrust their children to her and her staff. A slide-show of accomplishments of the children followed. Guest speaker, Dr. Heather Harnett, shared their family’s journey into the world of autism. Because of Including Kids, her daughter has graduated and is now attending regular kindergarten where she is about to perform a solo singing part in a play. By the end of her speech, there was not a dry eye left in the audience.

Dr. Heather Harnett, keynote speaker

“For every child, time is of the essence,” according to Jennifer Dantzler. “We know the earlier the intervention, the more favorable the outcome. However, we have also seen amazing strides from children as old as 14 years of age who had no previous intensive intervention. We encourage you to check out our website at http://www.includingkids.org to learn more about our programs.”

About Including Kids, Inc.

The mission of Including Kids, Inc. is to provide educational and therapeutic instruction using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis for children with autism and other related disorders endeavoring to facilitate their inclusion in the community and inspire them to become productive citizens.

Additional Photos

The Woodlands businessman, Mike Norat, and his wife, Glicel

The Woodlands residents Jeffrey & Hilda Bowen

Best Buy volunteers helped make the night fun.


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One response

29 04 2012
Billie (@BillieO2)

SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAD A GREAT TIME. GLAD TO HEAR THAT IT WAS SUCH A SUCCESS….

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