Families enjoyed a carnival at nearby Camp Zehnder on Herbertsville Road on Sunday, the proceeds from which will benefit Autism New Jersey.
Kimberly Schadewald, owner of 5 Points Wellness LLC in Belmar, said she wanted to get involved with fundraising for the cause after moving in with her boyfriend, his sister, and his sister’s daughter, who has autism. It hit her hard to see such a lovable child struggle. And thus, after completing hours of research, she became an ambassador for Autism N.J.
Danielle Garrote, 27, Howell, attended with her two sons CJ, 3, and Dylan, 2.
While her son CJ has not been diagnosed with autism, she said he’s on the spectrum. Both children, of course, could not get enough of the moon bounces.
Laura Mathes of Toms River attended with her 2-year-old son Trey, who is autistic.
“It’s wonderful they have rides that go in circles. They also have weighted blankets for sale – they help calm autistic children. They are hard to find and are often expensive,” Mathes said. “There’s free entertainment. It’s a nice inexpensive day out.”
Schadewald said Autism N.J. asks its ambassadors to do something small for autism awareness month. In the past, she worked with Jackie O'Leary, who owns Chubby Penguin Parties, and asked if she would be interested in the carnival. O'Leary was on board and sought the help of Sea Shore Amusements which donated the majority of what Schadewald needed for the event.
Schadewald credits Sea Shore Amusements for the variety of games, rides, and moon bouncers at the event. Additionally, there was a magic show, vendors, music, food and education on autism.
Schadewald said one of the great things about the funds going to Autism N.J. is that the funds will go directly into New Jersey to support autism in the community. She also said New Jersey has the highest percentage of autistic people and explained that it’s more common in boys, but when girls get it, they seem to be affected more by it.
The sun was not the only thing shining at this carnival. The faces of the parents, children and volunteers who attended lit up, as well.