MEET THE BRIESCH FAMILY
Families around the country are volunteering as ambassadors for Autism BrainNet, speaking publicly about the importance of brain tissue donation for research.
Chris and Jill Briesch are long-time Texas residents who currently live in Dallas, TX with their two sons, Alexander and William. Their older son, Alexander, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. This diagnosis propelled the Briesch’s into the world of intensive evidence-based intervention and advocacy. Tax accountants by trade, they vowed to learn everything they could about autism and what they could do for their son.
When their son William began showing early signs of autism at 6 months old, Jill fought to get William into early intervention programs. William received intensive early intervention for two years until it was deemed no longer necessary. He now attends his neighborhood preschool and loves playing PreK league soccer. Big brother Alexander received intensive therapy for more than four years and is now thriving in his general education kindergarten class and playing recreational sports.
This is not the end of their journey. Jill is an advisor for insurance supports in Texas, where, like in many states, coverage for autism-related services is an ongoing struggle. The Briesch’s have become a massive presence in the autism community, supporting local and national programs including Autism Speaks and Easterseals, conducting parent resource talks and being a friend to every family who needs support and help. You can learn more about Jill here.
When approached about participating in Autism BrainNet, their support was unwavering.
“We promised our son we would change the world for him and others with Autism.” Jill explains. “Committing to donate our brains to research that will help us understand more about Autism and develop meaningful treatments is a vital part of how we are keeping our promise.” While for some it can be a difficult topic to discuss, the Briesch’s talk openly and honestly about their commitment to research. The Briesch’s were also featured on a local news story about Autism BrainNet found here.
MEET THE EVERSON FAMILY
Autism BrainNet is thrilled to have the support of the inspirational Everson family.
Cindy and Eric Everson live in California with their two sons, Shane and Joe, and their family dog, River. After Shane (19) and Joe (16) were both diagnosed with autism, Cindy and Eric leapt into action and co-founded their non-profit, P.A.R. (Providing Autism Research) For Kids’ Sake, in 2002. Through P.A.R. For Kids’ Sake, the Eversons provided crucial support to the UC Davis MIND Institute as well as two local non-profits. One of these hosts camps for special needs kids and awards special education teacher grants; the other provides speech therapy and special education services to kids in need. Always ready for the next challenge, Eric currently serves on the board of directors of the UC Davis MIND Institute, and Cindy recently joined the board of directors of a new non-profit, Sunflower Hill. Sunflower Hill seeks to create vocational, educational and recreational opportunities for adults with special needs. The Eversons are passionate and dedicated advocates for individuals with autism, and Autism BrainNet is grateful for their support!
MEET THE URSITTI FAMILY
You may already know the Ursitti Family from Massachusetts, or at least one member, Judith, through her work as the Director of State Government Affairs at Autism Speaks. Judith jumps on planes at a moments notice to advocate for state insurance reform and has been part of successfully changing autism legislation in 42 states so far. Her husband, Andy, is the Global Controller for Sun-Edison, Dad Extraordinaire and a strong believer in the need for meaningful autism research “not later but now”. The Ursitti’s have two children, Amy, age 15 and Jack, age 12. Jack is diagnosed with autism.
Judith is a tireless advocate for autism research, describing for state and federal legislators the importance of evidence-based interventions for treatment of ASD across the lifespan. “Demonstration of proof that autism interventions work is only made possible by understanding people with autism and studying the brain”, Judith says. In addition, Judith stresses “Autism brain tissue has helped researchers understand what autism is so that these interventions and treatments can be developed in the first place.”
The Ursittis recently expressed their support for Autism BrainNet in our latest “It Takes Brains” ad. Thanks to all the Ursittis!