As you’ve seen in previous posts (11/7/07 and 1/18/08), I’ve been keeping up-to-date on Riley and have been letting all my blogger friends know what’s going on.

As posted by Matthew Van Dongen, in St. Catharines Standard, the fundraiser for Riley raised $16K!!!

We wish Riley and his family best wishes!

Fundraiser for autistic boy raises $16K

Stacey Marazzo already had the inspiration and determination necessary to learn how to treat her son Riley’s autism.

Now she has the money, too.

The Marazzo family raised more than $16,000 towards a home-based treatment program for their 20-month-old son at a weekend fundraiser.

That will enable the St. Catharines mom to head to Massachusetts next month to train in the Son-Rise Program at the Autism Treatment Center of America.

“It was a fantastic event. We had to have had more than 400 people out,” said Marazzo of the fundraising party, which featured musical acts Flat Broke and John Boyd at the Armenian Community Centre.

“There were plenty of people we knew, but quite a few who just heard our story and wanted to help.”

Little Riley had already been diagnosed with several congenital heart defects and endured open-heart surgery before recently being diagnosed with autism.

Autism is a brain development disorder that can impair social interaction and communication and cause repetitive behaviour, often starting before a child is three years old.

The Marazzos were told early treatment was critical — but the waiting list for government-subsidized treatment was two years.

Private, similar treatment would have cost more than $50,000, according to the family’s research.

The Standard told the family’s story earlier this month, including their discovery of a U.S.-based treatment parents could learn, then bring home.

The Son-Rise program has passionate supporters and detractors on the Internet, but Marazzo said she’s confident in the track record of the parent-created treatment.

“It’s totally based in love,” she said. “And it’s something I’ll be totally involved in.”

Marazzo said she’ll need about $18,000 to cover three, one-week training sessions spread throughout this year, including travel.

The money will also help build a specialized playroom that Marazzo and other volunteers will use to help Riley.

The fundraiser brought in more than $16,000, she said, “and it keeps trickling in.”

“Everyone has been so wonderful, so helpful,” she said.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s worth it. I have my inspiration, and he’s doing great.”

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