Steven Prendergast is a young man in Sioux Falls who works as a library assistant at the Sanford Medical Library. He also happens to have autism.
Growing up with autism, it was difficult being a child at a time when the condition was less understood than it is today. Steven often found comfort in video games, a love which he carried with him over many years.
By working at the Sanford Medical Library, Steven often encountered medical students looking for information about autism and related conditions, and he found himself providing resources and expertise about the condition. But, he wondered if there was something more he could do to spread awareness and help children who were now in the position he had been in growing up.
In 2015, Steven found the answer. He decided to combine his love of games with his desire to help autism causes. He began working with Edith, his mentor through Lifescape, to develop and organize a fundraiser.
The result was the first annual Arcade Bash for Autism at the Electric Rainbow Arcade in Sioux falls. Through Steven’s efforts, the arcade agreed to donate half of all proceeds for that day to Augustana University’s Lighting the Way Autism Walk event. Additionally, Steven found other sponsors for additional giveaways and to help promote the event on social media.
The 2015 event was a huge success. Through the arcade’s proceeds and additional donations, Steven’s Arcade Bash raised $1,620 for the Lighting the Way Autism Walk.
Based on the first year’s tremendous response, Steven was committed to making the event even bigger and better the next year. In 2016, Steven had more sponsors, more media coverage, more attendees, and raised even more – $3,142 for Lighting the Way Autism Walk.
Steven has already started planning the next Arcade Bash. He is inviting everyone he knows to the event in April 2017 – chosen for Autism Awareness Month.
Through his two events, Steven has raised nearly $5,000 for Lighting the Way Autism Walk. That money has helped the Autism Walk raise awareness about the condition, and the funds have directly allowed several children and families to attend special autism camps.