Make us your home page
Instagram

Fifth annual Autism Fest set for Saturday at Springstead High

Durbin

Durbin

SPRING HILL — It started as a small project spearheaded by an International Baccalaureate student at Springstead High School, and included just a handful of vendors to promote awareness for disorders falling under the autism spectrum.

Last year, with help from the Inspire Foundation, the event became more of a family musical event and grew to 70 vendors and sponsors. It drew more than 600 visitors.

Despite its success, Springstead decided to ax the event, so the Inspire Foundation teamed up with the Hernando County Family YMCA to keep it alive.

"We didn't want it to end," said Jason Rhodes, chairman of the Inspire Foundation, which is based in Port Richey.

So when the fifth annual Autism Fest takes place on Saturday at Springstead, it promises to be bigger and better than ever, featuring a concert by American Idol's James Durbin.

"We are excited to have James Durbin," Rhodes said. "He has affected so many lives. He shows people that this label is just a word. It doesn't define who you are."

Durbin, who has Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome, was one of the most popular contestants on Season 10 of American Idol, finishing in fourth place.

Proceeds from the event will benefit special needs children who attend Camp Coast at the YMCA, as well as music and art programs through the Inspire Foundation, including a new program, the Inspire Initiative, which will provide 125 kids with a weekly music or art class throughout the school year.

The Inspire Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was started by Rhodes and his wife, Cristine, whose son, Jacob, is autistic. Jacob stopped talking at age 2, and communicated with his parents only through music. Jacob, who turns 15 next week, is now fully verbal and is the founder of the Junior Members section of the foundation.

"He is the reason we started this," Rhodes said.

Along with Durbin, Saturday's event will include the Tampa alternative rock band Hope Darling, as well as singer/songwriter Nikki Dermott and entertainer Mr. Tommy (aka Tommy Girvin, the wildly popular children's entertainer who, until recently, was the lead guitarist for 1980s icon Eddie Money for nearly 30 years). The Tampa Yankees Street Team will also be on hand with its mascot, Blue. Papa John's will provide food.

The festival will include a game truck with a variety of activities and games for kids, face painting and raffles. There also will be train rides for the children, as well as about 70 vendors.

"The community has really come together to put this together," Rhodes said. "This is an event for everyone, not just those touched by autism."

>>if you go

Fifth annual Autism Fest

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Springstead High School, 3300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill

Admission: Free, although people planning to attend are encouraged to register in advance by using the eventbrite link at theinspirefoundationfl.org. Wristbands for unlimited rides and games are $10; single game and ride tickets are $1.

Information: Call (352) 410-3332 or (352) 688-9622. Visit theinspirefoundationfl.org.

Fifth annual Autism Fest set for Saturday at Springstead High 06/21/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 6:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 17: Think 11 miles of nothing but straight trail and open, flat fields sounds easy? Think again.

    Travel

    Day 17: Villarmentero de Campos to Lédigos: 33.5 km, 10.25 hours. Total for Days 1-17 = 394 km (245 miles)

  2. Tom Sawyer with a revolver? Twain house has live 'Clue' game

    Attractions

    HARTFORD, Conn. — Was it Tom Sawyer in Samuel Clemens' billiard room with a revolver?

    In this July 14 photo, actor Dan Russell, left, portraying the character Arkansas from Mark Twain's book Roughing it, responds to a question from 10-year-old Emma Connell, center, of Arizona during a "Clue" tour at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn. The tour allows visitors to interact with Twain characters while playing a live-action version of the board game. [AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb]
  3. Until this song, Alan Parsons Project stood on much higher ground

    Blogs

    Listening to yesterday's Keats song made me pine for more Alan Parsons Project music and today we dig deeper into their catalogue with Standing On Higher Ground.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 23

    Events

    Marie Antoinette: Freefall 411: A contemporary look at the historic pariah looks at Marie Antoinette through the lens of society's obsession with celebrity. Through August 13. A brief talk prior to the performance provides insight to the production. 1 p.m., show starts at 2 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central …

    Lucas Wells as King Louis XVI, left, and Megan Rippey as Marie Antoinette in Freefall Theatre's "Marie Antoinette."
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 22

    Events

    Snooty the Manatee's 69th Birthday Bash: Snooty, documented by Guinness World Records as the oldest known manatee in captivity, turns 69 and celebrates with children's games, art activities, cookies, drinks , interaction with Snooty the mascot and reduced price museum admission. 10 a.m., South Florida Museum, 201 …

    Snooty the manatee poses for a photo Thursday morning while three young manatees are unloaded from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Thursday morning at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
PAUL VIDELA/pvidela@bradenton.com 12/20/07