SMOKEY POINT — In observance of April as Autism Awareness Month, the Mr. Buckles Oil Change Service Center in Smokey Point conducted a fundraiser for “Answers For Aiden” on Saturday, April 27, by donating 20 percent of the day’s sales — including those of gift certificates for future service — to support autism research.
As customers and passersby alike stopped by to partake of free hot dogs and to buy raffle tickets for prizes provided by a host of local businesses, Melanie White explained what autism meant for her grandson Aiden, the Dallas, Texas, boy for whom the campaign is named.
“He was born a happy, normal little guy who was jabbering and hitting all his milestones,” White said. “He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, after he stopped eating or babbling, and started ‘stimming’ and banging his head.”
White recounted the progress that Aiden has made in the years since, which she attributes to alternative treatments that are often not covered by standard health care insurance.
“His mom and dad have had to sell their home and downgrade their car just to cover it,” White said. “He’s 7 years old now, and when he was 5, he underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A week later, he went from being able to say maybe three letters of the alphabet to being able to say the whole thing.”
Ted Pellegrini, owner of Mr. Buckles, confidently predicted that this event, which very nearly constitutes a first anniversary for his business since its opening about a year ago, would probably raise close to $2,500.
“Mr. Buckles has always been about being involved in our community, and autism is such a huge thing that impacts the families in our community,” Pellegrini said. “I saw this as another way of thanking all of Arlington and Marysville for all the support they’ve given my family and our business over the course of the past year, because their words of mouth has made us what we are today.”
Pellegrini sees such customer loyalty as a natural outgrowth of the deep and abiding affection that the citizens of Arlington harbor for their city and its history and heritage.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to give this space to ‘Answers For Aiden,’ and I’m glad they took advantage of it,” Pellegrini said. “This is why small businesses thrive in Arlington. It’s the coolest city to work in, and their police department is the best in the state.”
“I’m very impressed with Mr. Buckles,” said Renae James, who stopped by to buy an entire ribbon of raffle tickets that day. “They’re passionate about this community.”
The Mr. Buckles Oil Change Service Center is located at 17316 Smokey Point Blvd. in Arlington. For more information, call them at 360-322-7129.