To commemorate Autism Awareness Month, HDS Companies was invited by Miami-Dade County’s District 12th Commissioner, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, and The Dan Marino Foundation to participate in the Miami-Dade County Autism Awareness Month Kick-Off “My Journey to Independence” Ceremony and Resource Fair. Our HDS Contenders and ASDY-Tech team hosted a Resource Booth at the Fair and had the opportunity to meet and greet with event goers who visited the Stephen P. Clark Government Center throughout the day.

In addition to HDS, various organizations from Miami-Dade Counties participated in this Resource Fair. Those organizations include The Dan Marino Foundation, FIU Embrace, UM-NSU CARD, Miami-Dade Libraries, Vocational Rehabilitation, Bryans Art, South Florida Autism Center, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the 4th largest school district in the nation. We lined the lobby at the Government Center, while elected officials, staff, law enforcement officers, and members of the Miami Community walked through the Fair obtaining vital information about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

At 11:30 am, everyone gathered for the official ceremonies. First to speak was Miami-Dade County Mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez, who talked about Autism Awareness Month and how his family has personally been impacted as his oldest grandchild was diagnosed with Autism. He also spoke about a new Super Heroes Playground that will be opening at Tamiami Park at the end of April. This playground is going to be one of the first in the nation solely dedicated to kids and adults on the Autism spectrum. Following the Mayor, Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz thanked everyone for attending the event and thanked the building management for “Lighting It Up Blue” by adding blue lighting to the lobby. Commissioner Diaz also spoke about Autism and the importance of the Resource Fair for families to be able to obtain crucial resources.

Armando Luis, a Marino Campus Hospitality Student, served as keynote speaker. He spoke about his journey to independence and how the programs and services he has received from The Dan Marino Foundation have changed his life for the better. After being diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2, and having speech and occupational therapy, he feels that the most beneficial assistance has come from the Foundation’s Marino Campus. Piano prodigy Jacob Vasquez, an eleven-year-old musician with PDD-NOS (a form of autism), and a showman to the fullest extent of the word was next to present. He enthusiastically performed two Chopin songs.

The ceremony concluded with Miami-Dade County Commissioners, Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson, District 3, Vice-Chair Rebeca Sosa, District 6, Commissioner Barbara Jordan, District 1, Commissioner Jean Monestime, District 2, Commissioner Sally Heyman, District 4, Commissioner Eileen Higgens, District 5, Commissioner Xavier Suarez, District 7, Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, District 8, and Commissioner Dennis Moss, District 9 assembling a “Hope the Blue Robot” Puzzle Piece that spelled out Autism Awareness. The piece was donated by The Dan Marino Foundation and was created by Miami Wynwood District artist, Caro Tejada.

This event offered an opportunity for our newly formed ASDY-TECH team to present on behalf of HDS Companies and share how our philanthropic efforts through the HDS Foundation are making a difference for the autism community. It also served as a platform to generated awareness of the services ASDY-TECH provides in a public forum. Our HDS Contenders were gracious to be able to participate in this year’s Resource Fair, and are looking forward to future community events.

For more information on how you can become an HDS Contender, visit our website at or send us an email at [email protected].