After Autism Family Network supports family in need, Lincoln family creates scholarship

Published: Dec. 6, 2019 at 9:30 PM CST
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It all started with a question on the Autism Family Network Facebook page; a mom needed help meeting her bills. She'd taken time off of work to care for her son, who is on the Autism Spectrum, and now she just wasn't able to make ends meet.

The Autism Family Network was able to raise enough money to cover rent, and then some, but the request for help caught Dr. Alex Kallio's eye.

His daughter Maya is on the Autism Spectrum. He said Maya really loves Christmas.

"Her personality really starts to come out around Christmas time," said Kallio.

He said, he thought about donating to the family several times, but wanted to give in a way that could have a lasting impact. That's when he reached out to the Autism Family Network about starting a scholarship.

"I was just asked in October by a group of leadership students from UNL what I would do if I had the financial capacity," said Cathy Martinez, the president of the Autism Family Network. "My response was to start a scholarship program fro families in need in the Autism community. See what happens when you have a goal and put it out there to the universe!"

For Kallio, the inspiration to start the scholarship was his daughter. He said:

"Seeing my daughter and seeing how much she changes and lights up during Christmas time, it was one of those that, you know, if we can help give that to some kids that are struggling a little bit, that's something we really wanted to do."

This year the scholarship is for $500, to be divvied up as the Autism Family Netowrk sees fit. Next year, the scholarship will be $1,000. Kallio said, he hopes it can continue to grow and benefit families in Nebraska. Kallio said, he hopes others people on the Autism Spectrum will be able to love Christmas as much as Maya.

"Her excitement for Christmas music, and Christmas lights and presents and all of that," said Kallio. "To picture another kiddo that might have that same reaction not get that opportunity, that was kind of the impetus for getting this going."

Martinez said this will seriously benefit families in need.

"The Autism Family Network is excited about this new endeavor of providing scholarships for families in financial need who are affected by autism," said Martinez. "This serves a huge need for families affected by autism in our community."

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