Rock on for autism

. February 26, 2015.
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Nicole Khoury started a charity because she saw a problem and had to do something about it. “It was the perfect move for someone like me,” she said. “You don't whine, you do something about it.”

The annual fundraiser, Acoustics for Autism, returns this Sunday, March 8, to the Village Idiot in Maumee and surrounding businesses. In its 8th year and growing, Khoury kicked back for a moment to talk about the new Beer Garden, Party Tent and why she'll never take a dime for what she does.

“It's an event that everyone can go to . . . because it’s free. This is not an event where you pay $100-$150 dollars a ticket and sit at a table,” she said. “Not everyone can afford to do that.”

Khoury is a practicing attorney with a rock band of her own, and decided to combine her love of music and of children to form the local event. Sunday’s show features some of the same performers as the very first event—Khoury calls them the ‘loyal supporters,’ and said they aren’t in it for the ego boost.

She referred to Acoustics for Autism as the “premiere music event in the area,” and it will feature four stages and roughly 40 acts performing throughout the day into the night.

With the organization of volunteers, auction baskets, securing tents, flooring, space, and a 14-hour music event,  it’s no wonder Khoury's phone is ringing off the hook. I asked her how she manages to cope with the responsibilities, perform her day job, and still hold down the weekend job as lead singer of her band, Arctic Clam, who is also performing the day of the event.

“I do it because it's a passion,” she replied. “I've said it before and I’ll say it again—I do it because I love it. I do not take a dime from this charity. Well, I bought myself an eggplant parmesan once.” Khoury laughed.

She doesn't have autistic children in her family, but knows friends that do. “It was amazing to me, how many people I knew who started coming out, saying that their kid has some form of autism. It affects people I know, and I want to donate directly to our community,” she said. She made the point that national fundraisers often don’t directly benefit local children in need, another important aspect of this event. 

Project iAm started in 2007 and is a scholarship program designed to award families funding for associated costs of therapy and products specifically designed for education. “If I get a letter that says, ‘We need an iPad,' I cannot just buy one for your family because we are dedicated to the needs of the child, specifically. If there is a program that you need that has been prescribed as part of therapy, that I can do,” Khoury said. She is fiercely protective of the donations of businesses and families, especially those who are volunteers.

Acoustics for Autism is based inside the Village Idiot with additional locations at Buster Brown's, Georgette's Grounds and Gifts (with a silent auction tent behind the shop), and a new Party Tent in the parking lot with a Beer Garden. Khoury encourages people to use an entrance from the lot, to check out the auction items and listen to great music from all four of the stages.

All ages are welcome to this free event. Donations are appreciated, and help to sustain the Project iAm initiative. There will be a silent auction with gift baskets and a raffle. Other ways to show support include $1 bracelets, T-shirts, or CD compilations of past Acoustic for Autism events.

All proceeds go to Project iAm scholarships to help with therapy and education needs of autistic children in our area.

For more information, visit Acoustics for Autism here, or email info@aboutProjectiAm.com.