MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) – “In her world we’re the ones who are different,” Steve Grant says of his niece April Nicole Grenier. And that’s one of the reasons Steve has been working so hard for the past 14 years to raise awareness about children, and now adults like April who are living with autism. And he’d also like folks to know their families live with it too.
That’s why every year since April was four, he’s asked hundreds of bikers to come together for April’s Nicole’s Ride for Autism.
April was diagnosed with autsim when she was two years old. She’s now 18. April’s mother, Tina, says “personally it brings awareness and awareness is what we need you know. Autism is not going away,” she says as she wipes tears from her eyes, “kids are growing up as you can see April’s grown and she still needs support.”
The ride not only raises awareness, but also money to help people with autism and the people who support them. The money stays in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. “We support all the schools…to help the kids have learning devices like iPads…and other learning tools the kids need to help the kids learn and grow,” said Grant. iPads not only keep the special needs kids entertained and help them learn but many are able to use them as commuications devices to speak to their family and teachers. Special needs teachers whose classrooms have benefited from the ride were on hand at the Moose Lodge in Pensacola where the ride ended.
“The bikers always support, not only autism but other charities. They kinda get a bad rap, you know bikers, but they have really big hearts and love people and love to do things for people,” Tina Grenier told News 5.April’s uncle says that ironically she gets nervous around the bikes when the roll in because she doesn’t do well around loud noises. But when they are parked, sitting quietly, she loves them. She likes to walk around them and look at the different bikes.
As Grenier said, autism isn’t going away and neither is the ride. April just graduated from high school, she was barely older than a toddler when the effort started. As she heads into adulthood she and her family are facing new challenges. But they are not facing them alone. And thanks to her unle and hundreds of his friends with motorcycles, other families in Northwest Florida won’t have to face those challenges alone either.
Please be careful out there, and follow me on social media:
Chris Best is the News Director for WKRG. He’s a husband and father of four. He’s also a motorcycle enthusiast.