Dear Kelli O’Hara,

You may not know the impact you’ve had on our autism community, but I’m here to tell you today that you truly have made a difference. When I first found out that you signed on for the Arts for Autism Benefit Concert for Autism Speaks’ in New York City at the historic Gershwin Theatre, I was ecstatic. That night, your voice and your story left us in awe. You explained so eloquently. How your best friend’s son was diagnosed with autism, how she helped educate you on the cause and finally how much being involved in the cause meant to you.

Often the people who become advocates in our community are parents who have children on the spectrum. Your advocacy reminded every single one of us that anyone can be an advocate. It also reminded us all that autism affects us all now, in one way or another. No matter if we have a child with autism, have autism ourselves, or know someone who is affected. We are all in this together, and by sharing your voice you continued us down our road to spreading autism awareness.

I was diagnosed with autism at 4 and today as an autism advocate at 28 I can tell you how difficult it is sometimes for people to help spread the word about autism. It’s people like you, though, who remind me that our efforts can change the world for our kids. I said later that night at the Benefit Concert that autism is not a tragedy. Ignorance is the tragedy. Together we will continue to break down barriers of ignorance, hate and intolerance towards those with special needs.

All I can do is thank you for being you. You used your platform for a powerful cause, and for that, we will be forever grateful.

Your friend,