The Campaign to Build The Autism Nature Trail (The ANT) has won the grand prize in Cellino Plumbing & HVAC’s 2020 Truck Wrap Contest. The Trail came out on top against 250 other Western New York non-profit organizations, making it to the final two by popular public vote and then winning the contest in a final presentation made to the Cellino Board of Directors on Wednesday.

As the grand prize winner, The Autism Nature Trail will be featured in a specially designed wrap that will adorn one of Cellino Plumbing & HVAC’s company trucks for the full life of the vehicle. The organization will receive 5% of the revenue that comes from the truck’s profits over the next 12-months (typically between $20,000 and $25,000) and will benefit from the increased presence and awareness that will be given to the organization within the Buffalo and nearby market.

“Autism, developmental disabilities and inclusion are terms we’ve heard a lot in recent years,” says Loren Penman, one of the Co-Founders of The Autism Nature Trail project. “Many attractions are scrambling to become “sensory-friendly” but, what makes The ANT so unique is that we are not making a public place accommodating – we are making an accommodating place public. We thank the Cellino team for seeing and supporting that vision and helping us to make this project a reality.”

Leading up to the final presentation, The ANT reached out to the public to gather input on why The Autism Nature Trail is important to them and their families. Responses from supporters of the Trail poured in, ranging from the need for safe and inclusive outdoor areas, to judgement-free activities for the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community, to accessibility needs in natural spaces.

The Autism Nature Trail launched the public phase of its campaign on Jan. 30, announcing a goal of raising $1.9 million to construct a first-of-its kind nature trail in Letchworth State Park. It has been working since that time to raise the necessary funds to begin construction of the Trail – a space designed by a nature play specialist and landscape architects, in consultation with academics, practitioners and family members with firsthand experience of ASD. Once complete, the Trail will provide a unique and welcoming experience in nature, inviting those with ASD and other developmental disabilities to push boundaries, explore outdoor activities and develop new skills.

To learn more about the Campaign to Build the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park or to donate to the project, visit: autismnaturetrail.com/. The Trail can also be found on Facebook at “The Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park” where it posts positive updates from the ASD community, resources for families, information from the Trail and campaign and more.

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About the Campaign to Build the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park

 The Campaign to Build the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park is a public-private partnership with plans to construct a recreational trail within the park, that allows children with autism and other developmental disabilities to push boundaries, explore new activities and develop skills that will aid them later in life. To date, the campaign has raised $2 million of a projected $3.9 million needed to construct the trail and aid in ongoing maintenance, operations and specialized programming. The public phase of the campaign is now active, with plans to raise the additional $1.9 million. To learn more about the Campaign to Build the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park, its project partners or to donate to the project, visit: https://autismnaturetrail.com/.

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