Noah Maier, a 7th grader at Hayfield, will be performing at the third annual Mending Minds: A Gala for Autism on January 25.
Noah was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old. Today, he is a vivacious 14 year-old that loves learning about American presidents and mustaches. He is gifted with a photographic memory and loves singing in the choir at school.
During the "Dancing with the Staff" at Hayfield High School last year, Noah was asked to sing "See the World Through My Eyes" by Scott James, who is also autistic. During the event, founder of the RT (Reece Trahan) Autism Awareness Foundation Brad Trahan heard him sing and asked him to perform the song at this year's gala.
Noah said he's excited to sing and has been practicing very hard for his upcoming performance.
His mom Kristine Maier hopes that Noah singing will give others hope; that with therapy and early intervention autism isn't a life sentence of silence. "I hope parents that are struggling can find hope by watching Noah," she explained.
Kristine credits early intervention and therapy for helping Noah become the teenager he is today. "He's a gift," she said. "I know that some may perceive him to be 'broken' or needing to be 'fixed' but he doesn't." She says the biggest blessing about Noah is inability to deceive people and his inability to judge people.
"To Noah everything is black and white there is no gray in his life."
Noah started pre-school when he was two years old and the family worked with ZED (Zumbro Education District) beginning when Noah was 18 months old. Noah still receives an aide at school and Kristine credits the school district for their constant support of Noah. "They have been wonderful," she said.
The Mending Minds: A Gala for Autism will be held at the Rochester International Event Center beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday. Headlining this year's gala will be national comedian Greg Hahn. Hahn has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central, ABC, CBS, FOX and is a favorite on the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom Radio Show.
Also appearing at the gala are national comedians Russ Merlin and Bob Zany, who will be returning for his third appearance at the gala. The gala will also feature Magician Keith West, a Las Vegas illusionist.
All entertainers are pledging their time and talents to help fight the nation's fastest growing developmental disability, autism, which has no known cause or cure. The RT Autism Awareness Foundation (RTAAF) is an organization devoted to making people aware of autism and the effects it has on individuals and their families. The diagnosis of autism is an emotional one for families and RTAAF wants people to know that they are not alone. It is the organization's desire to promote events for autism awareness so that present and future individuals, along with their families, will have strong support.
The foundation was started in 2003 by Brad and Joan Trahan of Rochester soon after learning that their son Reece, then three, was diagnosed with severe autism. The Trahn family along with the RTAAF board of directors, wants families with individuals who are diagnosed with autism to know that they are not alone and they will make every effort to ensure that neither individuals nor families face this emotional battle alone.
Proceeds from the benefit will go to Project Lifesaver, education of law enforcement, to local schools to help students affected by autism, and to send kids to camps.