By Casey Raymer, Director of Development and Volunteer Services at ABC of NC

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
– Dr. Maya Angelou

ABC of NC Child Development Center (ABC of NC) presents Dr. Maya Angelou at their Sixth Annual Gourmet Lunchbox Lunch, a fund (and friend) raiser scheduled for Tuesday, November 5 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Millennium Center in Winston-Salem. The Luncheon benefits the non-profit organization serving children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

Dr. Maya Angelou, a Renaissance woman and Winston-Salem resident, is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature and a long-time autism advocate. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she travels the world, spreading her legendary wisdom.

“We can’t imagine a more iconic or captivating voice to articulate the extraordinary impact ABC of NC has made, and continues to make, in the lives of the children and families we serve,” said Felice Brenner, ABC of NC board chair. “Dr. Angelou’s message of equality embodies our vision that all children with autism spectrum disorder are entitled to an equal chance to reach their full potential.”

The 2013 Gourmet Lunchbox Lunch features gourmet lunchboxes packed with a delicious lunch from Milner’s American Southern Cuisine. The lunch provides a chance to interact with other caring community members; the ability to gain a more intimate understanding of ABC of NC’s work in our community; and the opportunity to financially support an organization that has been providing services to children with autism and their families for more than a decade.

“We can think of no better embodiment of our mission than Dr. Angelou’s famous words about the internal light within us all, “said Brenner. “ABC of NC is committed to fueling the light within individuals with autism spectrum disorders so that it can shine with intensity and brilliance for all to see.”

Thanks to advances in research and early detection and treatment, autism is reliably diagnosed as early as 24 months and evidence-based interventions, like those provided at ABC of NC, can improve its core symptoms. Unfortunately, many children, especially racial and ethnic minorities, are diagnosed too late to benefit fully from quality early intervention services that are widely known to change lives. On average, African-American and Hispanic children are diagnosed a year and half later than Caucasian children.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control revealed that one in 88 American children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, a 27% increase over 2009. Among boys, autism is estimated to affect one in 54, a 78 percent increase in 6 years and a 10-fold increase in reported prevalence over the last 40 years. In North Carolina, numbers are estimated to be even higher than the national average with one in 70 children, and as many as one in 43 NC boys, receiving a diagnosis of autism.

ABC of NC is one of only three specialized centers for children with autism in North Carolina, and has a service net of 14 counties. The center is committed to ensuring that all children with autism spectrum disorder reach their full potential through effective diagnostic, therapeutic and educational services. ABC of NC respects and values the uniqueness of all individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and supports each individual in developing the skills and motivation necessary to be able to learn and thrive in the least restrictive setting possible.

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders—autism spectrum disorders—caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors and impaired communication. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it affects people to varying degrees.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 5. ABC of NC has saved you a seat at the lunch table! For more information about how you can attend ABC of NC’s Gourmet Lunchbox please contact Casey Raymer, ABC of NC’s Director of Development, at or 336.251-1180 ext. 116.

Sponsored by ABC of NC