A Toast the Autism Community Gala Honors Local Advocates & Supporters

On October 14, 2023, more than 410 guests filled the Science Museum of Virginia to celebrate and support the life-changing work of the Autism Society of Central Virginia.

Thanks to Gala Sponsors, Benefactors, Table Hosts, supporters, and attendees, the 2023 A Toast to the Autism Community Gala raised $300,000 to support the ASCV’s mission to support, empower, and build connections to improve the lives of all in our local autism community. Funds raised will help the ASCV continue to expand our programming, services, and resources to reach more individuals and families in our local autism community.

The evening featured live and silent auctions, dinner, dancing, live music, and the presentation of our coveted five annual Mission Awards. These outstanding honorees are central to the mission of the ASCV whether they are supporting it, living it, or promoting it. Congratulations to our 2023 ASCV Mission Award Honorees:

Mission Amplifier: Katee Elam

Katee and her family joined the ASCV a few years ago when her son was diagnosed with autism, and in that short time has made a huge impact on our organization and mission. She donates her time to serving on our 5K & Gala Committees, is a top fundraising team at our 5K, and a generous contributor to our gala auction! We are grateful for the strong network of supporters she has brought to the ASCV. She has truly amplified the mission and the growth of the organization.

Mission Exemplifier: Kate Mardigian

Kate Mardigian formed an incredible local organization, Jacob’s Chance, more than 10 years ago, and she is always going above and beyond with her team to provide athletics, enrichment, and community to those of all abilities across Greater Richmond. Kate truly demonstrates the ASCV’s mission to support, empower, and build connections in her daily work.

Mission Partner: Collegiate School

Collegiate School is a strong community partner of the ASCV through co-hosting an engaging, integrative program, “The John Maloney Project,” that builds new friendships and understanding. The program was created 17 years ago by a dedicated dad and group of teachers who came together to pair their neurotypical students with buddies with autism to participate together in a weekly open gym format. More than 30 pairs of buddies look forward to The John Maloney Project each spring and fall.

Mission Champion: Giovanni Knight

Giovanni goes above and beyond to promote neurodiversity and understanding in our community. She has conducted Autism in the Workplace presentations in a variety of corporate settings, training over 600 participants in 2023 alone. As a self-advocate herself, Giovanni has opened doors for the employment of autistic people. As one nominator shared, she “has gone above and beyond being an educator, as well as a role model for younger autistics.”

Mission Inspiration: Gabriella Delgado Castro

Gabriella is a member of ASCV’s Self-Advocate Council and an active participant in ASCV’s adult programs. She is an attentive and empathetic listener and the first to offer words of kindness and encouragement to participants in the ASCV’s Women’s Group. She recently went back to Wilson Workforce Center and completed her program in Materials Handling; she is now actively seeking employment, and we continue to be proud of her and all she has accomplished.