Editors' Note: We are pleased to announce our annual Age of Autism Awards during this holiday week of celebration -- and especially happy to begin by naming Michelle Cedillo as Child of the Year. Michelle was the center of the first test case this year in vaccine court, and she received so many nominations from readers that it became obvious she was the perfect choice for the multitude of reasons outlined below. When told of the award, her mother, Theresa, said: "We are honored and grateful for this acknowledgement of not only Michelle but the thousands of other children with autism as well." Here is a sample of nominating letters, beginning with Mary Webster, herself the mother of an affected child:
Michelle Cedillo is a true, honest representative of each child currently struggling with autism. This unassuming thirteen-year-old exemplifies the now tens of thousands of injured children in this country waiting for the rest of the world to catch up and, more importantly, wake up. The New Enlightenment has been far too slow in coming for these long-suffering children, and, yet, they continue -- enduring the most unimaginable pain and heaviest of burdens.
Michelle has the misfortune of being plagued with nearly all of the symptoms associated with this condition. Although most children with autism do not share all of her symptoms, all of the children do share some of them. As a result, Michelle Cedillo struggles daily with the totality of that which we call autism.
Michelle braves each day waiting for relief. When relief doesn't come, she waits for the next. All the while, Michelle remains unimpressed by the glitter of fame, unmotivated by the promise of material wealth, and undeterred by the ignorance of those who refuse to understand.
These Warrior Children who have engulfed our hearts and to whom we dedicate so much of ourselves are, truly, the hardest working children on this spinning orb. Through it all, they are able to somehow find the strength to persevere. And, like so many, Michelle Cedillo has proven herself to be the Warrior Child she never asked to be, but has become, nonetheless.
Your criteria include: Someone who made a positive impact in
addressing autism this past year. And someone who "persevered" qualifies, according to your announcement.
Michelle Cedillo, as a child with autism, is the perfect individual
to be honored with an Age of Autism Award.
Michelle was the lead Petitioner in the first test case considered by
the United States Court of Federal Claims in the Omnibus Autism
In this capacity she led the way in representing all children in the
proceeding. Michelle, who is severely afflicted with multiple
physiological problems that someone has defined as "autism", is a
person who is emblematic of all the struggles and accomplishments,
all done through "perseverance" only, of all of our children.
She should be the face of autism and represents the struggle for
recognition of this disorder as a biomedical disorder caused by
vaccines. She also has shown that the struggle for justice is as
important as any other struggle connected with our children.
Honoring her will also honor her parents, Michael and Theresa
Cedillo, who have quietly and steadfastly persisted in their quest to
regain their daughter's health, and to obtain the justice all
similarly situated children deserve.
There is no individual more deserving than Michelle Cedillo to be
honored with your first Age of Autism Award.
Robert J. Krakow
Parent of a child situated similarly to Michelle Cedillo
Our family would like to nominate Michelle Cedillo.
While there are countless individuals who tirelessly, diligently and earnestly toil on behalf of all our injured and afflicted children, Michelle and her family are unique in that they've had the courage to trod where others have not. Being the first test case in the Omnibus hearings while many scoff and scorn at their/our legitimate concerns, Michelle shows us true valor and perseverance like no other.
We are grateful for the life of Michelle Cedillo. We celebrate her every accomplishment and revel in her endurance. Michelle demonstrates true heroism in this turbulent, tumultuous time, "The Age of Autism."
Mark, Lin and Sam (5 with autism and mercury toxicity)
She is the embodiment of our struggle to prove just what vaccines do to children. So many times our children are forgotten in all of this when we have cause celebs, people like Jenny McCarthy or even David Kirby, on our side. If I could I would nominate Michelle, my Nicholas, and so many others.
In truth I wish I could nominate her whole family. It's no easy thing to be made a judicial poster child for a cause such as this and the family's generosity in agreeing to be a test case for the Omnibus impresses us no end -- particularly because we're not sure we'd be able to endure it ourselves.