SHOW LOW — More than 150 people attended the White Mountains Autism Foundation’s third annual spaghetti dinner April 22, creating a dining room at the Hampton Inn that was bursting at the seams.

A full spaghetti dinner with salad, rolls and refreshments were served by volunteers.

Raffle tickets were sold at the door for a variety of prizes, gifts, products and services donated by local businesses. Many other groups assisted with set-up, preparation, parking and clean-up.

A board member at large challenged a guest to an “Ab Wheel” competition. The two gentleman worked the ab wheels in an effort to get to 100 rolls. The number of ab wheel rolls determined the amount of 50/50 raffle money going to one lucky guest and the remainder to the foundation. The guests cheered them on with the help of some fun, energetic music played by the DJ.

Don McMasters and his wife, Barb, started the foundation to support individuals and families affected by autism. They have first-hand knowledge and experience with autism because their son, Ryan, is autistic.

“Anything is possible when you have a purpose,” Barb McMasters said.

They started the White Mountains Autism Foundation to provide events, education and support for families that are affected by the disorder.

“One in every 64 children born in Arizona are diagnosed with autism,” Don McMasters said. “Additionally, there are at least 600 individuals in the White Mountains area alone that have an autism.”

For this reason, the couple said they feel strongly about the inclusion of local specialists, physicians, caregivers and parents participating in educational forums.

Saturday’s spaghetti dinner raised funds to continue providing resources and events for families with autism. Don explained that the foundation will be able to plan the Troy Gillespie Memorial Fishing Jamboree and the fifth annual Disc Golf Tournament. Both events are specifically geared for the families and individuals impacted by autism. The events are always looking for volunteers and hope to continually raise awareness about how autism is a “spectrum disorder,” which affects each individual differently.

The McMasters said they always encourage the community to reach out, get involved and share information because, “Parents don’t always know what resources are available to them in the White Mountains.”

For more information on the White Mountains Autism Foundation, call 928-240-1214.

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