Voted Best Non-Profit Event for 2015 in the City Paper’s Best of Toledo awards, Acoustics for Autism is back again for its 9th year, featuring over 50 bands across four stages, promisinb good times while raising money for an important cause. Over the years, the event, described by Nicole Khoury, executive director of Project iAM (the organization which plans and oversees the festival) as, “Picture Lollapalooza in the middle of the winter in Toledo,” has raised over $100k for families affected by autism.
Supported 100% by volunteers, Acoustics for Autism is an entertainingly heartfelt event. “I don’t have a child with autism, I don’t have anybody in my family with autism. I saw something that related to people that I know personally and I ran with it. It’s become one of the biggest charities and one of the most successful events in the area,” says Khoury.
The first Acoustics for Autism was held in 2008. “At that time, there was a huge need for funding and help for families living with autism. All the money being raised was going to national chapters and corporations. The parents were not able to come up with the money to get their kids the therapies they needed,” says Khoury. “Being a musician [the frontwoman of local band Arctic Clam], I talked to Dave Carpenter (a fellow musician). We decided to reach out and held a one-time event at The Village Idiot.” That event, a success, prompted the beginning of the annual concert.
Not only has Acoustics for Autism been successful in raising awareness, support, and funds, it also creates a positive space that is welcoming to people with autism. Khoury says, “These kids coming [to the event] are usually not okay in a social setting with loud music,” she continues, “Yet here you see them dancing and having a great time.” According to Khoury, “families are happy because their kids have this outlet and this experience that they’ve never been able to see them have before.”
According to Khoury, “We’ve raised $100k for these families so that they can pay for their kids to find their niche in life,” concluding “All the stress [in organizing an event of this size], when you see that one kid dancing to your songs or interacting with people that they normally wouldn’t, all of that [stress] disappears.”