National Autism Day: Amanda’s Angels Raise Autism Awareness
Jacquelyn Mailey works hard to raise money in support of Autism Speaks.
(Editor's Note: This article was first published in January, 2012. It is being re-published today as part of National Autism Awareness Day.)
When Jennifer Tortolano and Julann Briggs opened Live Life Fitness and Wellness in January of 2011, they knew they wanted it to be a different kind of health club. From the very beginning their goal was to create a welcoming atmosphere where families could spend time and experience wellness together.
Not always certain what direction that goal would take them in, Tortolano and Briggs have spent the past 12 months meeting new clients and helping them find a new style of overall wellness. Helping their clients, however, doesn’t always simply involve fitness.
For Jacquelyn working with, and helping raise money for, Autism Speaks is an intensely personal cause. Jacquelyn’s inspiration, her younger sister Amanda, is autistic and Amanda began her fundraising approximately five years ago in an effort to help her, as well as others, with the disorder.
“My main goal is to raise money and awareness in hopes that my small part will help bring better research, awareness and programs to help Amanda as well as everyone with Autism,” said Jacquelyn.
Five years older than her sister, Jacquelyn has always taken her role as the “big sister” seriously.
“I’ve always been old enough to understand what was going on with Amanda,” she said.
When she was a 15-year-old Wilmington High School student, Jacquelyn participated in her first walk for Autism Speaks. The following year she formed the team, Amanda’s Angels, and has been raising money ever since.
“Thanks to my family, extended family and friends we have been raising a little bit more money each year,” said Jacquelyn. “This year I hope to raise even more.”
She never dreamt, however, that when she started coming to Live Life Fitness with her mom, Marie, over the summer it would lead to a successful fundraiser.
“Jenn helped me so much with planning this,” explained Jacquelyn. “She and Julann let us use the space and helped with suggestions for ideas and entertainment.”
The event, which featured disc jockey Pedro Gonzalez and comedians Jerry Caruso, Larry Lee Lewis, and Bill Slemmer was a huge success. Between ticket and raffle sales, Amanda’s Angels raised a total of $2,470.00 for Autism Speaks.
With fifty five people including Amanda’s twin brother, Robbie, in attendance the evening was all about family, friends and fun. Jacquelyn greeted and thanked the crowd and the entertainment kept everyone laughing and dancing the night away. Live Life Fitness and Wellness lived up to its reputation and proved that wellness comes in all different forms.
As for Jacquelyn’s Dad, Rob Mailey, he couldn’t be more proud of his daughter.
“She was only 15 when she started all of this. She’s been at this for five years now and has been honored for her fundraising,” said Rob. “Now she’s a straight ‘A’ student at Wheaten College and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Mom, Marie Mailey, agreed. “Jacquelyn really is an amazing person,” she added.
With a personal goal to raise at least $4,000 this year, Amanda’s Angels are off to an incredible start. The team will, once again, be participating in the annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks and you can visit their page at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/greaterboston/amandasangels to make a donation.