There are many families affected by autism, whether it’s the individuals with the disease or their relatives seeking treatment for their family member. The Scott Center for Autism Treatment at the Florida Institute of Technology has been a place for individuals to get treatment, for families to learn more about autism and for research to be implemented on it. According to The Scott Center for Autism Treatment at the Florida Institute of Technology’s executive director, Michael Kelley, one in 68 individuals has autism, equating to 1.4 percent of the population.

Community support is essential to the center’s sustained success, and every year residents from Brevard and beyond come together for the center’s “An Evening of Hope” event. This year’s event was held April 8 at the Eau Gallie Yacht Club in Indian Harbour Beach and raised nearly $145,000 for research, treatment and subsidies for the center. The funds also go to the center’s WISH scholarships, which provide early intervention treatment for children with autism and related disorders to families that may not be able to afford it. Next year’s event will be held February 17, 2018 at the Shah residence in
Merritt Island. 

For Edward and Cheryl Scott, the decision to assist in funding the creation of the center in 2009 came from a personal place, as they have had family members diagnosed with autism and understood the importance of dealing with the challenges the disorder can produce. Hearing from families whose children were treated at the center has been striking and has reinforced the family’s view that the center was needed. 

“There was a lady at the center, standing at the reception desk crying, and she was obviously emotionally affected,” Edward Scott said. “We went up to her and asked if there was something wrong, and she said, ‘No, I’m just so happy; I just learned that my son no longer has to get special treatment because the treatment at the center had been so effective and now he can be mainstreamed into school.”

The event has also received support from sponsors such as Kempf’s Jewelers, which has been involved since the very first Evening of Hope. Kempf’s has raffled jewelry pieces in the past and next year will offer raffle tickets for $25 each for a Rolex.

“The Evening of Hope events are something I, as well as many in the community come to look forward to each year,” Scott said. “It is very well attended and is the perfect blend of fun and fundraising.”