A Night of Comedy to Benefit Autism
Okay, so I haven't been out much in the past ten years.
I've gone to two autism events during that time, one in San Francisco and one in Chicago. But when I heard that Generation Rescue and the Ryder Foundation were putting on a night of comedy at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, near where I used to live in the Marina district of San Francisco I knew I had to go. This would be my third event.
For those of you unfamiliar with San Francisco, the Palace of Fine Arts Theater is a beautiful relic of the 1916 Pan Pacific Exposition designed to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. The theater probably seats somewhere under a thousand people and it shares the space with the Exploratorium, one of the country's most unique science musuems. I take my science students there every year on a field trip. It's a hands-on museum at which students can make their hair stand up straight by putting their hand on a Van de Graaf generator, or watch in fascinated horror as one of the volunteers dissect a cow's eye or sheep brain every half hour. It's the highlight of my school year.
I bought one of the expensive tickets which got me into the gourmet food and wine reception before the event and the dessert reception afterwards. As I walked from the car to the theater I saw a big, black stretch limousine (Jenny's?) and at the entrance there were a few photographers, men entering in suits, and tall, leggy women in six inch heels towering over me. I have to admit I felt a little out of place, almost like Frodo amongst a gathering of Men and Elves. (Yes, some of the women were so tall, slender, and endowed with such unearthly beautiful I'm convinced they represent a slightly more evolved race than our own!) But then again, San Francisco always has been a little different than the rest of the world.
Hanging around the entrance to the reception was a regular reader of Age of Autism who describes himself as my number one fan. I've now run into him at all three events I've attended. We greeted each other warmly and he told me I need to stop stalking him. He's a brilliant, unconventional thinker and I always look forward to our discussions. He's usually ahead of the curve in his areas of scientific interest and is one of the many people who make me appear smarter than I actually am.
I also met up with my brother-from-another-mother, J.B. Handley, only the second time we've seen each other in person. However, we e-mail a few times a week and talk regularly on the phone. Usually the conversation goes something like this, "Yes, Kent, that's a good idea but it would cost a lot of money and I'm not sure how much it will advance the cause." Then he reminds me how Generation Rescue is funding a vaccinated/unvaccinated study, paying for kids whose parents can't afford treatment, all while Jenny is trying to put together a television show to try to become the next Oprah Winfrey. We then swap stories about intriguing rumors of a retroviral connection to autism which might also explain some of the health problems of the mothers of many of the children.
I was a little taken aback when my brother-from-another-mother said he thought I was one of the most optimistic people in autism. It's curious because I don't consider myself an optimist. I just think that given enough time, resources, and thought human beings will find answers to even the most difficult questions. Yes, I expect there to be a lot of dead-ends, but there will eventually be solutions. Our children aren't suffering because of evil spirits or the wrath of God. Something isn't working properly in their bodies and we need to determine exactly what it is and fix it. Is that optimism or simply the way the world works?
I spent some time with one of the doctors who's worked with my daughter in the past and found she's also heard rumors about a retroviral connection to autism. Adding to the rumor mill she told me she thinks the scientists doing the research have a good idea of how to go after the virus, although that information hasn't yet been shared. She's not convinced the retroviral connection will be the entire story with autism and is waiting until there's good data on the treatments before suggesting them to her patients. Despite what's usually presented in the mainstream press regarding doctors who work with bio-medical treatments I rarely find them to be the wild-eyed radicals so often portrayed. They're generally serious, sober professionals and want to find the answers as much as any of us.
I was interviewed by a reporter for Natural News who's familiar with my work and I tell her the story of how I feel I've had the quickest autism recovery story with my son, Ben, and the longest and still unsuccessful recovery with my daughter, Jacqueline. I tell her I don't know if the problem was caused by a toxin, a bacterial or fungal infection, or a virus, but I know the chain of events started with a vaccination. When she asked whether I'm still hopeful for my daughter I said yes, because I'm not sure we've found what's wrong with her. If we can find and treat it I expect she'll get better, even though she's twelve years old. I recall how there were so many AIDS patients who were literally weeks away from death before they got their treatments and they're now living full, productive lives. Why should I expect our children to be any different?
The lights went down and we all moved to the auditorium for the show. Jenny came on the stage looking dazzling and let loose with a few zingers which let the audience know they're now among the warriors. The comedians, Whitney Cummings, Heather McDonald, Gary Valentine, and Josh Wolf were all hilarious and the local radio DJ, Sterling James did a great job as co-host of the event.
In the middle of the show there was a request for donations for families who can't afford treatment and of course I donated more than I thought was wise given my financial situation. But I didn't really care. As powerful as the forces of pharma and the medical establishment arrayed against us are I couldn't help but be inspired by the people around me. They are my heroes and we are bound together in a fellowship. I want to support them as much as I can.
As often as we rail against the bad guys, I think it's just as important to thank the good guys. Whether that's simply sending an e-mail to Generation Rescue expressing your appreciation for their efforts, or donating more money that you think is wise I strongly recommend it. We will all benefit from such help.
Generation Rescue can be reached HERE.
Kent Heckenlively is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism
Kent, indeed you are one of the heroes. I look forward to meeting you again and being in touch! (The Natural News reporter.)
Posted by: Alix | September 14, 2010 at 02:27 PM
I too hope a video was made!
Posted by: Twyla | September 14, 2010 at 01:55 AM
I did NOT outbid you! I don't have the money to bid! Glad you liked the review of the night.
All the best,
Posted by: Kent Heckenlively | September 13, 2010 at 10:25 PM
Kent you do know that you too are one of those heros you were talking about.
And I would like to thankyou too!
Posted by: Benedetta | September 13, 2010 at 10:02 PM
Great review of the night, Kent. We didn't meet but I have a hunch you were the one that would not be outbid tell me where I'm wrong. :) THANK YOU!!!
As a parent of a child with autism I'm deeply grateful for the dedication and commitment the two hosting organization have for our children, for all the generous donations from the attendees and I was proud to support the event as a sponsor.
I'm with Deb, I would purchase the DVD. My husband and I laughed so hard we cried.
Posted by: Diane Hunter | September 13, 2010 at 07:17 PM
The Oraccolytes tried so hard to bully the comedians who were part of this show so that they wouldn't show up. I'm genuinely happy that these wonderful comedians attended anyway.
It's so funny. Whenever we ask for a Vax vs. unvax study, they tell us to fund it ourselves. But when we try to get funding for it, they contact the organizers of the event and try to prevent it from occuring.
This event was for children with autism. This lets you know just how much these people (i.e. the Oraccolytes) care about children with autism.
Posted by: Craig Willoughby | September 13, 2010 at 05:30 PM
Thank you, Kent! It was great to finally meet you. Everyone in attendance amazed me with their generosity and positive spirits. It was truly a magical evening and I was so very proud to be a part of it.
Posted by: Jenny DeMaria | September 13, 2010 at 11:24 AM
I hope they put this event on DVD and I will buy a copy. (hint)
Posted by: Deb in IL | September 13, 2010 at 11:02 AM
Kent, I know you've talked about the WPI before, I've just seen this video of theirs, maybe the first minute is of interest. He says his daughter's autism improved after she was treated for viruses.
Posted by: B | September 13, 2010 at 10:26 AM
Sounds like Great Fun Kent, I'm so glad you got a chance to go out and laugh!
These words are what drive me every day...
"Something isn't working properly in their bodies and we need to determine exactly what it is and fix it."
If it's optimism, then I guess I'm fully entrenched in that optimism. Or else I wouldn't keep bringing my son in for tests and reading every study that comes out hoping to find that one or two that connects particularly to him. If pessimism is never wanting to find the answers and accepting his daily physical pain and medical obstructions to his abilities, then I never want to be there.
Keep the optimism going and the investigative fires burning because pessimism is for sissy's, quitters and those afraid to get their hopes up. When you have a sick child it's unthinkable to waste your time and theirs being pessimistic.
Posted by: Allison | September 13, 2010 at 09:37 AM
Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great time.
Posted by: elaine | September 13, 2010 at 08:23 AM