Tony Simmons

The 12th Annual Auction for Autism Awareness on April 12 was a resounding success, nearly doubling the fundraising goal for the event.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Early Childhood Autism Program (ECAP) at Florida State University Panama City marks each April by hosting an auction. All proceeds go to the ECAP Butchikas Scholarship fund, which provides financial assistance to Bay County families affected by autism who need help paying for therapy.

This year, the organization hoped to raise $30,000, and ultimately raised $55,772. The auction total has increased 220-percent in the past three years, according to Dakota Januchowski, clinical coordinator for ECAP and a board-certified behavior analyst.

“The money is making a measurable difference,” he said. “We have 41 clients, total, who receive an average of 6 hours a week in services. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to receiving services. You have to get to them early, because this is life-changing therapy at an early age.”

ECAP is a 501(c)3 non-profit early intervention and community outreach program that provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services to local children with developmental delays or disabilities. It is the only local nonprofit ABA program to provide in-home, in-school and in-clinic services.

The program is based at FSU Panama City, 4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City. For information on ECAP, visit PC.FSU.edu/ECAP. To donate, email fsuecap@pc.fsu.edu or call (850) 770-2241. All donations are tax deductible.

“The auction is one of ECAP’s most valuable tools for giving back to the community,” Januchowski said. “With the money raised through our yearly event, we’ve provided thousands of free therapy hours for an underserved population.”