MACKINAW CITY — The Mackinac Bridge will “Light It Blue” on Monday, April 2, to raise awareness for Global Autism Awareness Day.
The Mackinac Bridge Authority is partnering with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Corner Pieces and the Autistic Children’s Treatment Network to host a special bridge-viewing ceremony at St. Ignace Country Club in St. Ignace on April 2.
“Light It Blue Michigan” is an autism campaign launched by the nonprofit Corner Pieces based in Sault Ste. Marie, dedicated to improving the lives of children and families living with autism spectrum disorder.
The Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue April 2 to kickoff the monthlong campaign.
In addition to the Mackinac Bridge, other locations participating in Light It Blue Michigan include the GM Renaissance Center, DTE Energy offices, Motor City Casino, Madonna University and Wayne State University.
Michigan has more than 15,000 residents living with autism, which ranks fourth in the nation for population.
“This is another important milestone involving the Mackinac Bridge and the health of Michigan citizens,” said William H. Gnodtke, Mackinac Bridge Authority board chair. “By being a part of this great program, hopefully we will not only raise awareness about autism, but also help increase support for families coping with this disorder.”
Lt. Gov. Calley, an outspoken advocate of expanding Michigan’s health care coverage for children affected by autism, will be the featured speaker at the event.
“Setting our state’s most iconic structure aglow in blue will send a strong message about the importance of helping children with autism,” said Calley, whose 5-year-old daughter, Reagan, is being treated for autism. “I greatly appreciate Light It Blue Michigan’s work to highlight this vital health issue.”
Additional speakers are expected to include Corner Pieces President Ben Duff, Autism Children’s Treatment Network President Murray D. Wikol, DTE Energy officials and others.
Wikol and his wife Nanette, known as pioneers in the fight to diagnose and treat autism, are sponsoring the ceremony at the St. Ignace Country Club. Since 1995, Wikol has shared his passion throughout the United States and abroad by investing heavily in autism research and education. Wikol also is the longest-serving member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority Board. The Wikol’s daughter, Anika, was diagnosed with autism when she was 14 months old.
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate and socialize with others, and usually appears within a child’s first three years.
For more information, visit the campaign’s website at www.lightitbluemichigan.com.