Brandy Wheeler is many things; business owner, entrepreneur, technology connoisseur, and a mother to a son with autism. After her son’s diagnosis at age 3, Brandy set out to increase autism awareness. One of the similarities she noticed between children with autism was their draw to technology; computers, video games, and television seemed to be able to hold their attention for hours. When Traverse City Area Public Schools started a pilot program in 2011 for kids with autism to use iPads, Brandy took interest. The learning advantages were immediately noticeable, the apps on these iPads helped with the children’s social skills, communication, and abilities to interact and learn. Unfortunately, there are about 120 students in the Traverse City school district with autism, and only 9 iPads with autism applications were purchased.
In response, Brandy decided to create a fundraiser to help raise money to buy iPads to benefit children with autism. The Scavenger Hunt for Autism will take place Saturday, April 14 in downtown Traverse City from 1-3pm. This unique event will combine Brandy’s iPhone app, Traverse Traveler, with a scavenger hunt throughout the downtown area. There will be two different courses, a family course and a challenge course in which the app will be used to check in at different locations. Participants will complete tasks and collect prize tickets at each location.
Traverse City local, Nick Nerbonne, jumped on board with this fundraiser because he loved the idea of “social media for social good.” Nick works with social media everyday and has seen firsthand how it helps brands and businesses. The idea of using social communication to raise money for an important cause was certainly something he wanted to be involved with. The benefits are clear and Nick says, “There’s no question that the technology is making a difference. The next step is to raise enough money to put an iPad in the hands of every student who can benefit from using one.” Not only that, but it’s a great opportunity to have fun while supporting education in the beautiful downtown district of Traverse City
To create a team, it’s as easy as going to the Traverse Traveler website. Registration is $20 per team now through March 25th, and then will be $25 per team through April 7th when registration will close. Even better, join my team! The Awesome Mitten will be represented by Team Awesome and I still need teammates. Email me at Jennifer@AwesomeMitten.com if you’d like to join me in the fun. Cash donations are very welcome at TCAPS.net/autism as well. Brandy is also available to answer any questions you may have at info@TraverseTraveler.com, or just check out Scavenger Hunt for Autism’s Facebook page or website, both are full of oodles of good information. Can’t wait to see you there! ~Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer